Erdogan made the remarks on Friday during a speech to mark the beginning of the new legislative year in Parliament.
“We have resolved the matter called the Kurdish issue, abused by all factions including terrorist groups, in all its aspects, from rights and freedoms to development,” he said. “We will also unmask those who still want to abuse this matter.”
The president’s comments follow main opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu emphasizing a need to seek a solution to the decades-long conflict in the Turkish parliament.
At the beginning of its tenure, the AKP loosened many restrictions on Kurdish political, linguistic and cultural rights as part of the so-called "Kurdish Opening", but since the collapse of peace talks with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in 2015, repression of the community has again been on the rise.
“With our new understanding of security, we stopped a terror corridor from forming next to our borders,” Erdogan said, referring to Turkey’s cross-border operations in Kurdish-majority northern Syria.
“Our country has taken strides in the last 19 years in democracy and development,” Erdogan said. “Adding to that the multi-faceted trials of the last eight years, a picture that gives hope to all of us emerges.”
“Like every gain Turkey has made in 19 years, we hold responsibility for the economy,” he added, citing the repayment of the country’s debt to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 2013.
“All individuals in our country” should stand behind the government’s goals that have “gone beyond the political and become national goals”, Erdogan said. “There is no second Turkey, no fatherland, no state, no future. We must never forget that we cannot grow via division.”
Kilicdaroglu said that the state “cannot deal with an illegitimate body such as Imrali” to solve the issue, referring to the island where PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan is jailed.
Between 2013 and 2015, the Turkish government and the PKK maintained a fragile ceasefire. Through the peace process, government and intelligence officials would meet with Ocalan on the Imrali Island, with HDP lawmakers acting as mediators and go-betweens, conveying messages to the PKK’s military leadership in Qandil Mountains. However, after two years, the peace process fell apart and the conflict resumed.
Following Kilicdaroglu's remarks, Erdogan on September 23 once again denied the existence of the Kurdish issue in Turkey, repeating his rhetoric that his AKP government had “already solved this issue.”
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