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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
06ANKARA6521 2006-11-28 13:30:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Ankara
Cable title:  

TURKEY: KURDISH CONFERENCE TO CREATE UNITY IS

Tags:   PGOV PHUM PREL OSCE TU 
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					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ANKARA 006521 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/27/2016
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL OSCE TU
SUBJECT: TURKEY: KURDISH CONFERENCE TO CREATE UNITY IS
BOYCOTTED BY MAIN KURDISH PARTY


Classified By: Political Counselor Janice G. Weiner for reasons 1.4(b),
(d)

1.(C) Summary: The Kurdish Democracy Forum brought together
six panelists and an audience of approximately 100 at its
November 25 Ankara conference to discuss solutions to
Turkey's so-called Kurdish problem. The conference's
effectiveness was undermined by the last-minute withdrawal of
the Democratic Society Party (DTP) and sometimes conflicting
views of the panelists. The conference itself was
nonetheless a remarkable achievement in that it allowed
public discussion of Kurdish rights that just ten years ago
would have led to arrest. This newfound freedom to voice
opinions gives Turkey's Kurds a chance to build the policy
consensus that so far has eluded them. End summary.



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Kurdish Speakers Propose Diverse Solutions


--------------------------



2.(SBU) The Kurdish Democracy Forum's (KDF) November 25
Ankara conference to discuss solutions to the so-called
Kurdish issue drew together a panel of five prominent Kurdish
speakers and one Turkish speaker, an audience of
approximately 100, and national print and television media.
Feridun Yazar, a DTP founder who later left the party over
policy differences with its other leaders, formed the KDF in
February 2006 with the goal of developing ideas on solving
Kurdish problems peacefully. He told us in October that the
conference would further that goal by bringing together
prominent Kurds to develop "a tangible, fresh approach to
peacefully, and effectively bring peace, liberty, and
economic progress to Southeastern Turkey."

3.(U) Although the diverse ideas of the six panelists
undermined somewhat Yazar's call for Turkish Kurds to develop
consensus, all speakers agreed that violence would never
solve the problem. Kurdish writer Faik Bulut said the recent
PKK unilateral ceasefire has created a calmer atmosphere for
discussion, but warned that a lasting solution could not be
created without input from the Kurds themselves. In
particular, Bulut said that unless US General (ret.) Ralston
and Turkish General (ret.) Basar consult with Turkish Kurds,
no lasting solution could be achieved. Echoing Yazar's
point, Bulut said that Kurds must reach consensus among
themselves before their ideas would have an impact.

4.(U) Kurdish political party HAK-PAR's Chairman Sertac Bucak
and long-time Kurdish politician Serafettin Elci both urged a
federal system as the only realistic solution. Bucak called
on Turks and the international community to support a new
constitution that "allows all communities to organize and to
express themselves without the fear of prosecution, and
devolved power to the regions." Elci stated that because
Kurds possess all the attributes of a nation -- their own
history, geography, language and culture -- they should
embrace their right to govern themselves. Elci argued that a
federal system is by definition still a unitary state and
therefore does not contradict Ataturk's notion of a Turkish
state.

5.(U) Turkish writer Ismail Besikci focused on the
"historical injustice" of being denied a state after World
War I. Besikci did not outright call for the creation of an
independent Kurdish state, but his desire for one was clear
during the 45-minutes he spent reiterating that Ataturk and
the British conspired to deny Kurds autonomy when the
Republic was founded. According to Besikci, the process of
other powers dividing and sharing Kurdish lands after World
War I was "like breaking a person's skull."



--------------------------



--------------------------


DTP Boycott Undermines Goal of Creating Consensus


--------------------------



--------------------------



6.(SBU) Just days before the conference (and months after
invitations listing DTP Chairman Ahmet Turk as a panelist had
gone out), Ahmet Turk announced that the DTP would not
participate. According to conference organizer Feridun
Yazar, Turk demanded that more speakers and panelists falling
under the DTP umbrella be included in the conference or that

ANKARA 00006521 002 OF 002


the conference be postponed. Yazar said he could not
accommodate the request as the agenda had already been
finalized. The last-minute decision undermined the goal of
the conference -- achieving consensus among Kurds -- but
served to highlight the challenge that faces them.

7.(SBU) DTP Coordinator for Foreign Relations Nazmi Gur later
told us that DTP believed the conference should have been
more "broad-based" by including women and DTP mayors as
panelists. He also said the DTP did not want to be
associated with the idea of a federal system in Turkey --
which it opposes -- by participating in the conference.
DTP's attendance, moreover, could have "neutralized" their
own conference, which they plan to hold early next year, Gur
told us.

8.(C) Comment: DTP's boycott as well as panelists'
disagreement on tactics shows that Turkey's Kurdish leaders
do not speak with one voice. Despite a lack of consensus,
the outspoken rhetoric presented at the conference -- and
covered by national news media -- is in itself significant.
Ten years ago, the Turkish state would not have permitted
such a public conference and likely would have arrested those
who publicly presented ideas such as the creation of a
federal system in Turkey. With this new-found freedom to
hash out their opinions without fear of persecution by the
state, Turkey's Kurds have a chance to build the consensus on
policy that thus far has eluded them. End comment.

Visit Ankara's Classified Web Site at
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/eur/ankara/

WILSON