‘Solution to Kurdish question in Turkey would solve refugee crisis’ opposition tells Merkel

Chancellor Angela Merkel with Mithat Sancar (left) and Idris Baluken (middle) at the German Consulate General.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel ended her one-day trip to Turkey on Thursday by meeting representatives of the two major opposition parties, the People’s Republican Party (CHP) and the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), at the German Consulate in Ankara.

After the chancellor’s meeting with Prime Minister Binali Yildirim and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan earlier on Thursday, she sat down with CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu, Vice Co-chair of HDP in charge of Foreign Affairs Hisyar Ozsoy, Mardin HDP deputy Mithat Sancar as well as Diyarbakir HDP deputy and vice-chair, Idris Baluken.

According to local media, Merkel asked about arrested lawmakers and politicians and during the meeting.

The HDP representatives expressed their regrets that the party’s co-leaders, Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag, could not be present due to ongoing imprisonment November, after having been stripped of their legal immunity.

Idris Baluken, who was released on Monday pending trial, after spending almost three months in prison, told the chancellor about the conditions facing detainees in Turkey and informed her on the wave of arrests.

“We spoke of the need to put democracy, rule of law and human rights issues on the agenda whenever official meetings such as this Turkey-Germany encounter take place,” Mithat Sancar said after the hour long meeting.

Sancar reported that they discussed the situation in Syria and of the Syrian Kurds in particular. “If there is a sincere desire to find a permanent solution to the refugee issue, a peaceful solution to the Kurdish question in Turkey must be reached. We explained that such a solution would directly affect Rojava in Northern Syria, making them safe places. This would in turn affect the rest of Syria.

The developments of the past couple of years in Turkey were discussed, as well as the upcoming referendum, and the pressure the opposition faces. “They know very well what is going on in Turkey”, Hisyar Ozsoy commented. “Both domestic and regional peace is under threat due to the lack of a democratic process, and the oppression and restrictions that characterise the run-up to the referendum”.

Ozsoy shared his views on the questionable legitimacy of a run-up in a state of emergency under which any criticism of Erdogan is met with great pressure.

“Since the day the peace process ended, things have become truly dire in Turkey and the country has not recovered yet. We insisted upon the need to return to the table for peace talks. Germany and Europe should take a firm stance on this issue.”

“The stance Merkel has taken on the refugee crisis has been dictated by realpolitik rather than employing the principles of human rights and the rule of law. This is not the right way, we said – they should commit themselves to defending demokracy and the rule of law.”

“There is no quick way to solve the refugee crisis but there is a need to make mid and long term plan. There is a need to begin a peace process in Turkey and to develop friendly relations with our neighbours – that is the only way to solve the crisis,” Ozsoy said they had told the chancellor.