July 21, 2014 - 16:22 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Turkey is fanning the flames of turmoil in the Middle East, according to Selahattin Demirtaş, the presidential candidate of the country’s Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), which is seeking to expand beyond its Kurdish base in next month’s election.
Тhe government’s “sectarian policies” have benefited Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the radical Islamic movement ISIL, he believes.
Commenting on the Kurdish issue Demirtaş said it’s Turkey’s most important problem and “we are on the brink of solving it.” “Kurds demands equal treatment from the state, just like any citizen in Turkey,” Demirtaş said in an interview with the Hürriyet Daily News.
“They still cannot have education in their own language. There are legal obstructions to developing their own history and culture, which is also true for other identities in Turkey. They want to participate in governance. Instead of drawing new borders, they want to be part of the state’s governance through local administration and regional, municipal assemblies. They want past crimes to be confronted and justice to be served regarding coups, village burnings, and unidentified killings. All of these demands are just part of demands for more general democratization in Turkey,” he said.
Demirtaş also criticized the government for halting the European Union accession process, saying the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) “stopped the reform process when it no longer needed the EU.”
“The Turkish leadership has gained the political benefit it wanted from the EU process. The EU’s criteria and principles are not at a level that the government can endorse ideologically. It has already consolidated its power in Turkey and it chose to stop as it no longer needed the EU process,” he said.
Selahattin Demirtaş was born in Diyarbakır in 1973. He graduated from the Faculty of Law at Ankara University, after which he started working at the Human Rights Association’s Diyarbakır branch. He was later elected as the head of the branch and also became one of the founders of the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey and Amnesty International’s Diyarbakır office.
He started his active political career at the Democratic Society Party (DTP) in 2007, when he was also elected to Parliament. He became the DTP’s deputy parliamentary group leader at the age of 34. In 2010, he became co-head of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) and was reelected to Parliament in 2011.
He is currently the co-head of the People’s Democratic Party (HDP) and its presidential candidate.