More Autonomy for Turkey's Kurds?
One of the more interesting and significant recent developments regarding the Kurdish issue in Turkey has been the growing talk about increasing political autonomy for the predominantly-Kurdish southeast region. Such talk has been bubbling under the surface for years, but it has become more pronounced recently, with Kurdish politicians speaking more openly about their vision for a more autonomous Kurdish region within Turkey.Following up on this development, the Hurriyet Daily News has a very interesting interview with Gultan Kisanak, co-chair of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), Turkey's main pro-Kurdish party. From the interview:
“Turkey’s strong centralist structure causes problems. There is a need to transfer some authority, responsibility and financial resources to the local governments,” she said. “[Strengthening local administrations] was already a matter of discussion in the country as part of its negotiations with the EU. But the government came out against it.”
According to Kışanak, the project envisages the creation of 26 political and administrative regions, each with the democratic means to self-govern. “There are 81 provinces and thousands of districts. They can no longer be ruled from one center,” Kışanak said.
The party has also proposed the establishment of regional parliaments that would have their own flags and symbols.
Last month, Diyarbakır Mayor Osman Baydemir brought the idea to the public’s attention when he said having the Kurdish flag fly next to the Turkish flag would be a good method of solving the problem. A prosecutor, however, launched a probe against him for the statement.
“In almost all European Union countries, there are such regions that have their own symbols or flags. We do not offer this model only for a certain part of the country. It’s valid for the entire country. There is a need for a new political and administrative model. Under this model, there will be a need for each region to symbolize its parliament through a flag or a pennant. The municipalities already have a symbol,” Kışanak said.
“What would be the harm if a region where Kurdish people live predominantly would choose a flag with their own color? For example the Istanbul region will determine its own flag and perhaps the region where Rize, Trabzon and Samsun are will have its own flag,” she said.
The full interview can be found here.