GeriGündem U-turn in AKP's Kurdish policy
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U-turn in AKP's Kurdish policy

U-turn in AKP's Kurdish policy
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ANKARA - Fırat looked at the Kurdish problem from a more democratic and reformist perspective while Aksu supports pro-state policies

The replacement of Dengir Mir Mehmet Fırat with Abdülkadir Aksu, another politician of Kurdish origin and an adherent of state policies on the Kurdish issue, is considered a reversal on the Kurdish issue by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. 

Erdoğan, who last year came up with a new approach of constitutional citizenship for Kurdish people living in the Southeast, recently displayed a “love it or leave it” policy toward the Kurdish issue. Erdoğan appointed Aksu to the number two position, the post of deputy leader, in the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, instead of Fırat who resigned from administrative posts in the party over the weekend, due to the corruption claims levelled at him by the main opposition party.

Fırat’s resignation was interpreted differently in the political arena but corruption claims made by the opposition Republican People’s Party, or CHP, are seen as the major reason for his resignation. Clarifications made by Fırat against the allegations were found unsatisfactory in the party. This situation allegedly disturbed Erdoğan. There were also allegations that it was Erdoğan himself that wanted Fırat to resign.

The different approaches adopted by Erdoğan and Fırat toward the Kurdish problem were said to have been a reason for Fırat’s resignation. The official explanation for the resignation, however, was reflected to the public differently. Both Erdoğan and Fırat said the resignation was related to health problems of Fırat. Erdoğan said Fırat had earlier informed him of health problems.

“The health problem is an important excuse. I thus welcomed his resignation. He has hardly worked in the last six years in the party. We will share his duties as deputy from now on,” he said.

Fırat, meanwhile, said he resigned because of personal reasons and health problems and Erdoğan confirmed it. “There is no other reason behind my resignation,” he noted.

The resignation also has implications for possible changes in Erdoğan’s handling of the Kurdish problem. Erdoğan has suggested more democratic rights including cultural rights, constitutional citizenship and democratization for Kurds in the Southeast of Turkey. However, there were some visible changes in the government’s policy toward the issue right after the terrorist attack in Aktütün. This change was voiced in recent statements by Erdoğan who displayed the “love it or leave it” sentiment in his speech in Hakkari at the beginning of November.

The changing political stance was most evident in the appointment of Aksu as some deputies of Kurdish origin close to Fırat began to voice concerns over Erdoğan’s recent remarks behind closed doors. Fırat looked at the Kurdish problem from a more democratic and reformist perspective, especially on cultural rights and social policies. Fırat played an important role in the preparation of the list of deputies from the Southeast before the July 22, 2007, election.         

Pro-state stance
Affiliated more with Islamic views, former Interior Minister Aksu is from Diyarbakır and a center-right politician of Kurdish origin who once served in the Motherland Party, or ANAP. He has a more pro-state line so his appointment is considered to be a change in government’s viewpoint toward the Kurdish issue.

İbrahim Binici of the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party, or DTP, said the AKP faced a dissolution due to the Kurdish problem.

CHP's parliamentary group leader, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, who made the corruption allegations against Fırat, said Fırat’s resignation was a positive development, as he could not satisfy the public with his answers. CHP Deputy Leader Onur Öymen said the resignation indicated a dissolution in the AKP, not the changing of roles in the party.

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