CHP leader pledges autonomy for local governments in Hakkari rally


CHP leader Kemal K?l?çdaro?lu was in Van prior to speaking in Hakkari as part of his election campaign. He addressed locals while wearing a pu?i, a scarf often worn by Kurdish men.
Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal K?l?çdaro?lu pledged to give autonomy to local governments during a speech in the predominantly Kurdish province of Hakkari on Monday.
The CHP leader was speaking during an election rally in the province. “We will give local governments autonomy, as is the case in Europe,” he said.
K?l?çdaro?lu vowed to implement European regulations for local governments. He was referring to the European Charter of Local Self-Government, which Turkey signed back in 1991, albeit with conditions on several articles. The charter commits the ratifying member states to guarantee the political, administrative and financial independence of local authorities. It provides that the principle of local self-government shall be recognized in domestic legislation and, where practicable, in the constitution.
Autonomy for municipalities has been a long-time demand of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) and its predecessors. The Democratic Society Congress (DTK), which describes itself as a local organization of Kurds in eastern Turkey and which has connections to the BDP, late last year proposed the principle of “democratic autonomy.” This principle requires that local governments be granted autonomy from the centralized system in their affairs regarding education, security and external relations.

K?l?çdaro?lu’s remarks also referred to a reform in public administration that was vetoed by former President Ahmet Necdet Sezer in 2004. The Law on Public Administration, which would have given more power to local administrations, could have eased tension and contributed to the solution of some of the problems in the region.

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) in 2004 drafted a bill to reform public administration within the country. The bill was passed by Parliament but vetoed by President Ahmet Necdet Sezer, and the government shelved the proposed legislation. The bill would have taken the highly centralized public administration system and made it less centralized while strengthening local administrations.

According to the bill, authority in all fields — except justice, defense, security, foreign affairs, national education, religious affairs and social security — would have been delegated to local administrations. The CHP strongly opposed the bill.

K?l?çdaro?lu: It is my duty to resolve the Kurdish problem

CHP leader K?l?çdaro?lu, who was in the eastern province of Van earlier on Monday, pledged to resolve Turkey’s Kurdish problem if his party comes to power following the June 12 general elections.

K?l?çdaro?lu  was addressing a crowd in Van as part of his party’s election campaign. There were tight security measures in the province where K?l?çdaro?lu’s predecessor, Deniz Baykal, became the victim of egg attacks during a visit to the region two years ago.

“I’ll make a promise. No matter what it costs, I will bring peace to this country. I will make brotherhood dominate in this country, and I will end conflicts,” K?l?çdaro?lu told the crowd at Van’s Be?yol Square.

In his speech the main opposition leader also directed criticism at Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo?an, who in an election rally in Hakkari earlier this month said there is no longer a Kurdish problem in Turkey but that what currently remains to be addressed is the problems of individual Kurdish citizens.

“You were talking about the existence of this problem before, what has happened? The lack of a solution for the Kurdish problem results from the failure of politicians to address the issue,” he said.

During a visit to the predominantly Kurdish province of Diyarbak?r in 2005, Erdo?an admitted the existence of a Kurdish problem in Turkey and confessed to “mistakes and sins” of the state committed towards its Kurdish citizens. This speech of Erdo?an has been welcomed as the first recognition of the Kurdish problem by the state.

CHP leader K?l?çdaro?lu also said on Monday that he has never engaged in any discrimination against people based on their ethnicity or religion.

K?l?çdaro?lu is an Alevi from Tunceli, where the population are mostly Zaza, a people generally associated with the Kurdish population although their ethnicity is in dispute, with some rejecting Kurdish identity. Although he is of Kurdish origin, K?l?çdaro?lu rarely makes any mention of the country’s long-standing Kurdish problem. He was also severely criticized for failing to utter the words “Kurd or Kurdish” in the speech he made at the CHP party congress where he was elected party leader last year.

The CHP leader also criticized the arrest of Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) mayors in the country’s Southeast as part of an operation into the Kurdish Communities Union (KCK), the urban arm of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

“Placing mayors in jail — who assumed their posts through elections — is imposing limitations on the will of the public. This is disrespectful to the nation’s will,” he said.

K?l?çdaro?lu also pledged to lower Turkey’s 10 percent election threshold, expand freedoms and liberties, investigate unsolved murders in the country’s Southeast and try the perpetrators of the Sept. 12, 1980 military coup.

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