12th EUTCC Conference at EP witnesses calls to end the ongoing conflict

The 12th International Conference on “The EU, Turkey and the Kurds” hosted by the European Union Turkey Civic Commission (EUTCC) has kicked off at the European Parliament earlier today.

The 12th International Conference on “The EU, Turkey and the Kurds” hosted by the European Union Turkey Civic Commission (EUTCC) has kicked off at the European Parliament earlier today.

The two-day conference which discusses the title “Old Crisis – New Solutions” has started with opening remarks by Kariane Westrheim, Chair of the "European Union - Turkey Civic Commission" (EUTCC) and EU Parliament’s Left Group Chair Gabi Zimmer.

Nobel laureate, former President of East Timor José Ramos Horta said he was watching the Kurdish people's struggle with great admiration, adding; “The women fighting in Syria and Iraq are amazing combatants who remind me of woman revolutionaries that defended Stalingrad and Vietnam against occupation. Kurds are an example of the longest denial of a folk as a whole.”

Horta expressed his wishes for the attainment of peace between Kurds and the Turkish state as did happen in his country after an occupation of 24 years.

Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Shirin Ebadi from Iran called attention to the importance of ethnical and cultural diversity for cultural development, saying that it is among the basic duties of a democratic country to preserve this diversity and ensure that these segments do not suffer a violation of their rights.

Ebadi underlined that the Turkish state must respect the cultural rights of the Kurdish people who are being through a very severe situation at the moment. She noted that Kurds in East Kurdistan are also suffering discrimination by the Iranian government.

The conference continued with presentations by journalist Cengiz Çandar; Prof. David Romano; Prof. Susan Breau; Peter Galbraith, former Ambassador to the Republic of Croatia, US; Takis Hadkigeorgiou, Vice Chair of the EU-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Committee; Selahattin Demirtaş, Co-President of HDP, Member of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey.

Speaking at the second session titled "From Model To Problem", Peter Galbraith said Kurds deserved participation in Geneva-3 Conference the most because it was them who fought terror the most. Galbraith underlined that Turkey should return to the table and reinitiate peace talks with the Kurdish movement, adding; "Whether you like it or not, PKK is an effective movement. If you want peace, you must make peace with the PKK."

Journalist Cengiz Çandar called attention to the disaster Turkey faces today, saying; "Turkey has evolved into a fascist regime after the elections. I am worried for my country as the Kurdish people are being subject to a disaster. What we face is an abdication of reason."

Çandar emphasised that the AKP ruling also based on support it received from the European Union while perpetrating this atrocity against the Kurdish people. "If the EU continues to act in line with its interests, and remains silent on Turkey's immortal practices, the situation will get much graver", he added.

Susan Breau remarked that the Kurdish people had to take up arms and fight to protect their existence and were charged with terrorism for fighting crimes against humanity. Stressing that the definition of terrorism must be changed, Breau said Kurdish combatants sacrificed their lives in the fight against ISIS, but were still labelled criminal and terrorist. "Turkey is making the anti-ISIS fight difficult. Kurds are the only force fighting these inhuman forces."

Speaking after, HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş pointed out that Turkey is currently being through the darkest political atmosphere of its recent history. "While the balances and statues in the region all turned upside down, this became a crisis of Turkey's due to its unprepared situation with regards to ideational, ideological and governmental and foreign policy aspects. Kurds have reached the stage of catching up with the change and come up with a solution to their own Kurdish problem."

Pointing out that Kurds have once again taken to the stage of history today, Demirtaş said this recently formed Kurdish perspective doesn't threaten or ignore the Turkish people, other cultures, identities and faith groups in Turkey. He continued; "Kurds do not threat Turks as an enemy. Nor are they a threat to Turkishness, secularism, Islam or other religions and faith groups. Yet, why do Turks consider Kurds as a threat? Because they have a status quoist mindset. The world is changing and Turkey continues to pay a heavy price as it persistently remains out of this. All peoples are paying heavier prices."

Demirtaş described Turkey's objection to PYD's participation in Geneva-3 meeting as an abdication of reason.