Erbil, June 4 (AKnews) – The leader of a prominent Kurdish party in Turkey has declared that they will not recognize a new constitution for the country if it does not recognize the Kurds.
Contest between political parties in Turkey is gaining momentum as the country goes closer to national elections to be held on June 12. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Teyyip Erdogn promised in mid-April to draft a new constitution and make Turkey one of world's 10 strongest economies by 2023.
"We'll start working on a new constitution right away, to support democracy and freedom," Reuters quoted Erdogan as saying during a speech at his AKP headquarters in Ankara without giving details.
But for the Kurds, identity and autonomy are more important than any pre-election pledges made by the Turkish political leaders.
"We will not recognize a constitution which does not recognize the Kurds in the country and does not accept autonomy," the Firat News Agency – close to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) - quoted Ahmed Turk, the head of the Democratic Society Congress (DSC) as saying.
"The next elections carry vital importance for the Kurds," said Turk. "We consider it as a referendum for the Kurds".
After decades of struggle against Turkey for independence, the Kurds are now calling for a model of self-rule similar to that of the Kurds in northern Iraq.
Turk accused on Saturday the Turkish authorities of not responding to their demands for peace. "We offered our hand for peace to the policy-makers in the country, but they refused it."
"We are struggling for democracy… and we will struggle until we are offered autonomy," Turk stressed.
Even the PKK which has engaged in a deadly war with the Turkish state for three decades, leaving some 45,000 dead, mostly Kurds, is now supporting a model of autonomy with greater political and cultural rights.
Prime Minister Erdogan's Justice and Development Party (AKP) has been Turkey's dominant political force since 2002.
In 2010, Erdogan's AKP introduced for the first time reforms to the Turkish constitution of 1980 which included an overhaul of the Constitutional Court, changes to the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors, and new limitations on the power of military courts.
The reforms were approved by the Turkish parliament in May 2010. But the majority of Kurds boycotted the popular referendum on the reforms on the grounds that it did not contain clear reference to the Kurds as the second largest ethnic group in the country alongside the Turks. Also, the reforms did not contain provisions for the Kurdish language to be used in Kurdish schools.
By Raber Y. Aziz, contribution by Abdul-Kadir Wandawi (AKnews)