A FIRST MEETING in more than three years between the People’s Democratic Party (HDP) and the governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) has been confirmed as elections draw close in Turkey.
The confirmed meeting came following the statements made by former AKP MP and current vice chair Orhan Miroglu deeming cooperation with HDP legitimate.
“We choose our candidate in the region from figures that are likely to receive votes from HDP base. It’s not possible to find a figure like that without a record of associating with HDP officials,” said Orhan Miroglu speaking to Kubra Par from Haberturk News Channel.
“We are not cooperating with HDP, which is legitimate in my opinion, while doing this,” added Miroglu during the interview.
The news of the meeting was first revealed by Abdulkadir Selvi, a columnist for Hurriyet daily. Selvi wrote those attending the meeting were HDP’s co-chair Pervin Buldan, HDP deputy Mithat Sancar and Naci Bostancı, head of AKP’s group in the parliament.
HDP’s Buldan has since confirmed the revelation as true, through an interview with news portal, Gazete Duvar.
Selvi’s shocking column was published on January 29, a day after the confirmed meeting took place. The meeting was the first between the pro-Kurdish HDP and AKP since mid-2015.
After a two-year de-escalated period between the Turkish Armed Forces and the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), during the peace talks dubbed “solution process” came to an end, a meeting between HDP and AKP was never public.
Selvi further alleged Bostanci regarded the meeting as “an important step to ease the already-harsh tone of the political discourse.”
“There is no statement made by both parties regarding the meeting but it is viewed as important since it took place on the same day HDP announced the party will not be nominating candidates in three metropolitan municipalities,” wrote Selvi, linking the two events.
On January 28, HDP announced it will not be nominating candidates for Istanbul, Izmir and Adana metropolitan municipalities. The announcement came after a Mesopotamia News Agency report alleging the party’s waiver of candidates in seven metropolitan municipalities including capital Ankara.
On the day of Selvi’s column, a further confirmation of the meeting was made Saruhan Oluc, the HDP spokesperson.
HDP officials, however, denied any correlation between the meeting and the announcement regarding the three metropolitan municipalities and claimed the timing is “pure coincidence.”
Buldan, speaking to Gazete Duvar, said the meeting was about the obstructions HDP officials face while running their election campaign in the majority of eastern Kurdish cities.
“We met with the AKP to discuss the pressure we face in the region. Especially the obstruction of the convoy of our co-chair Sezai Temelli during a visit to the city of Van. There were topics regarding the obstruction our candidates face during their campaign,” said Buldan, adding that the meeting only took 15 to 20 minutes.
“Our stance against AKP regarding the elections is clear. In a period when so many of our people are imprisoned, when the isolation terms (of Ocalan) are apparent, it is not possible to discuss another issue,” said Buldan.
When asked about the AKP deputy’s view of the issue, Buldan said the deputy thinks the matter as “a reflection of the harsh tone of the political discourse in the region.”
In an interview with news portal, T24, Oluc made similar remarks to Buldan’s with regard to the candidate nominating process.
The touchy subject of a conflicted speaker
Oluc further responded to speculations about the meeting as there were claims it had to do with the election of a new parliamentary speaker after the resignation of the current speaker, Binali Yildirim.
The speaker of the Turkish parliament, AKP MP Yildirim, was nominated as the AKP’s candidate for the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality at the end of the December. Yildirim was reprimanded by the opposition for not resigning from his post in violation of the country’s constitution.
“The Speaker and vice-speakers of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey cannot participate, within or outside the Assembly, in the activities of the political party or party group in which they are a member – nor in parliamentary debates, except in cases required by their functions. The Speaker and the vice-speaker who is presiding over the session shall not vote,” reads the article 94 of Turkey’s constitution banning political activities in relation to the speaker.
Yildirim defied the calls for resignation, claiming the elections should not be regarded as “political activity.”
However, on January 29, following allegations of his possible resignation, on a CNN Turk live broadcast, Yildirim announced he will resign after his nomination became official.
The meeting touched on hunger strikes also
Oluc said the agenda of the meeting was on two issues. One was the obstruction of HDP candidates in the eastern cities and the other the hunger strikes by members of the pro-Kurdish party.
On elections and the nomination of candidates, Oluc said no decision was made to endorse any political party, but to restrict the capabilities of the AKP and its ally the Nationalist Movement Party, MHP.
IYI sees the meeting as negotiation towards a new peace process
Nationalist opposition IYI saw one of its MPs, Tamer Akkal’s resign over the HDP’s announcement of the waiver in three cities.
IYI is allied with the Republican People’s Party (CHP) in the upcoming elections and HDP’s decision was viewed as an endorsement to this alliance.
On November 8, during a TV broadcast, Meral Aksener, the leader of the IYI party, claimed HDP and AKP were holding secret talks to negotiate a new peace process.
Many IYI followers hit social media after the meeting between HDP and AKP became public, sharing Aksener’s views along with the news on the meeting. No AKP officials have yet made any statement regarding the meeting.