The solution to the Kurdish issue should be based on democratic processes and representatives of Kurdish people should be included in policy-making, said a report from the Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation, or TESEV, released at a press conference yesterday.

"The Kurdish issue is not only a terror issue, but has ethnic, cultural, legal, political, social, economic and psychological dimensions. The Kurdish issue existed before the Kurdistan Worker’s Party, or PKK, existed, and the requests and problems of Kurds will continue to exist even after the PKK is completely destroyed," the foundation stated in the report.

The report, "A road map for the solution of the Kurdish issue: offers to the government from the region," also said there was a need to increase the plurality of Kurdish political life, and the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party, or DTP, should not be the sole actor. The report, however, also criticized the isolationist policy toward the DTP deputies in Parliament and similar attitudes of local administers toward local DTP municipal representatives. A solution to the Kurdish issue is possible and will be meaningful by taking steps simultaneously in social, economic, political, and other areas, the foundation stated.

The TESEV in June 2008 held a workshop in the southeastern province of Diyarbakir on the Kurdish issue and around 20 representatives of nongovernmental organizations and professional groups participated. The thoughts and opinions gathered at the workshop were compiled in a report sent to around 15 people so they could also add their contributions.

Opinions belong to Kurds

"The suggestions, thoughts, and opinions in that report do not belong to the TESEV, but to Kurds," the foundation said. Among those who contributed to the report were local representatives of political parties, business people, academics, representatives of chambers, lawyers, human and women’s rights activists.

The TESEV first invited Hasim Hasimi, former Diyarbakir deputy and Abdullah Kurt, current Diyarbakir deputy from the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, to evaluate the report. These names, however, led to criticism from the DTP that it had not been invited as a speaker and interpreted it as support for the AKP, Serpil Yilmaz, a columnist from Milliyet wrote yesterday. Ethyen Mahçupyan, the moderator of the conference and coordinator of the Democratization Program of TESEV, said Hasimi could not participate in the conference as his nephew had died, so the TESEV changed the program and invited journalist Cengiz Çandar. "We were under pressure from various circles while preparing the report. The DTP put significant pressure on us. The Kurdish issue, however, is greater than what can be represented by any one political party. It is not possible to exclude them, but it is also not possible to focus only on one party," said Mahçupyan in his speech.

Although Kurdish people are not homogenous, the majority of their political sentiments, especially of those Kurds living in eastern and southeastern Anatolia, focus on Kurdish political and cultural rights, the elimination of the village guard system, the removal of landmines and positive discrimination, the foundation said.

According to Cengiz Çandar, Kurdish requests to use the Kurdish language are one of the most critical issues. Preventing the changing of Kurdish place names and giving back original Kurdish names, preferring to hire personnel who can speak Kurdish in health, justice and education institutions are among the requests. "These language requests will make all other steps possible," said Çandar.

Meanwhile, the Southeastern Anatolian Project, or GAP, an integrated project of dams, hydroelectric power stations, transportation, industry, education, health and development has lost legitimacy in the region, said Dilek Kurban, a contributor to the report. "GAP cannot be the fundamental means to solve the Kurdish issue," she said. The project will not cover all Kurdish cities or former State of Emergency, or OHAL, cities, such as Mus and Bitlis, Kurban said.

Hurriyet Daily News