Green Left Party candidate Candar evaluates the potential for a Kurdish peace process

Green Left Party candidate Candar evaluates the potential for a Kurdish peace process
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Candar emphasized that there can be no resolution to the Kurdish question under an Erdogan presidency and the current parliamentary balance. Asked whether he would like to take an active role in solving the Kurdish problem, Candar said, "Gladly.”

SEDA TASKIN- With the submission of the candidate lists for members of parliament to the Supreme Election Board, attention turned to the names who were nominated by their parties. We talked about many issues with Cengiz Candar, who is a candidate for the Green Left Party and whose candidacy has been widely discussed in the public, from the criticisms directed towards him during the candidacy process to the Kurdish question and his expectations from Parliament.

First of all, how did your candidacy process develop, and were you expecting such an offer?

On the evening of April 5th, while I was in France, I received a phone call. A decision had been made in the consensus committee to present me as a candidate. I was not surprised by this decision. I had not been expecting it, but I had already planned to return to Turkey for the elections. In fact, I had been deliberating about whether I should come back before the elections or a week afterwards. When Hasan Cemal was announced as a candidate, I guess the notion that I could also be offered candidacy began to root in my subconscious. So, I was not surprised when the offer came. Later that night, I spoke with Mithat Sancar.


What did you discuss with Mithat Sancar? Did you talk about the candidacy?

Mithat Sancar told me that a decision had been made regarding my candidacy. I expressed how honored I was about this development and especially about being offered candidacy by the Green Left Party. I also mentioned that I was happy to be given the news by Mithat Sancar, as we have been friends for a long time."

Who did you first share the news of your candidacy with?

When I learned that I was a candidate, I immediately shared it with my wife. She said, "Your decision is important to me," and she said it would be a very honorable closing chapter for me to continue my struggle in the last period of my life. She said that my entire life had been devoted to progress on the Kurdish question and that the candidacy was an expression of loyalty shown to me.


After your candidacy was announced, there were criticisms from some quarters. Even your past videos with Fethullah Gulen were recirculated. What do you say about these criticisms?

These are not criticisms, but rather [propaganda] operations. Criticism is one thing, and an operation is another. When you see the extent of what is being said, the frequency of the words used, the tempo and the rhythm of what is said, you do not need much time to see what is what. I have enough experience and perceptive ability in these matters. I see these as an operation [to alter public perception] and a character assassination. I see it as an unfair and untrue campaign. What was important to me was the reaction of other groups. The reaction of the people of Diyarbakir, the Kurdish public, and Turkish individuals who I know are in favor of democracy, was very important to me. There is no problem on their end. So, it then became more obvious for me, that what you call criticism is a [public perception] operation against me. Clearly, these are not situations that I have not experienced or did not know about before. I believe this to be part of the struggle. The fact that those who engaged in this campaign put on left-wing clothing did not create for me the impression that this was leftist criticism. Rather, I saw this as a character assassination campaign of individuals who had donned the garments of the left-wing.


Is there a statement that you regret making or an action you regret doing from the past?

No human being is free of fault, and everyone has made mistakes and has regrets, but if we survey my last 30 years in terms of political stance, I have no regret along the lines of "I wish I hadn't written this or said that." I know why I did what I did, how I did what I did, and the reasons behind my actions. Although there may be issues where I could have expressed myself better in terms of the details, I have no regret in the sense of my political direction. The troubles that befell me all happened afterwards, anyway. Before that, I was a member of the Turkish elite that was very well accepted as a “member of Turkey.” There may have been no need for me to get into these difficulties.

What is your approach to the Kurdish question? In a meeting held by Kilicdaroglu and Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Co-Chairs, it was indicated that the solution lies in the parliament. How do you evaluate this situation?

The Kurdish problem and how to solve it is a massive question. In May 2016, when I was working for the Radikal (“Radical”) newspaper, the newspaper was shut down, and my professional career in journalism came to an end. At a time when I was not being hosted on any channel to speak on any topic for even a single day due to Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s embargo on TV networks since 2014, I received an offer from Stockholm University, and I went to Sweden in 2016 on an obligation to write a book. For four years, I was immersed in writing this book, which was published in 2020 by the American Academic Publishing House, named "The Kurdish Question: War and Peace.” If you ask me, I’ll put humility aside for a while to say this book is the most comprehensive book written on the history, roots, development process, and solution processes to the issue with both practical information and a lot of theoretical studies. This book contains the autopsy of these issues.


On the matter of where things stand today, any so-called "Peace Process" that will involve Recep Tayyip Erdogan will, by the very nature of the issue, not reach a resolution. If one looks at Tayyip Erdogan and the regime in Turkey after the peace process came to an end, one sees nothing more than a regime of oppression based on nationalism and a hostility to Kurds. The raison d’etre of this regime is anti-Kurdish hostility and nationalism. Its partnerships and foreign policy are already entirely aimed at this. Its primary focus is attacking the Kurds in Syria and preventing the Kurdish formation there. This is the main reason for all their fights with America, and it is causing problems in their NATO relationships. This is the state of the country.


So, are you saying that if Erdogan becomes president, the Kurdish question will not be solved? What if Kilicdaroglu becomes president; will issue reach a resolution then?

If a new era begins today, if Erdogan remains the President, and if the arithmetic of parliamentary seats supports the current ruling coalition, there will be no solution whatsoever to the Kurdish problem. If Kemal Kilicdaroglu becomes the President and the parliamentary arithmetic looks different from today, it may be possible to solve the Kurdish problem. Kilicdaroglu has said that the Kurdish problem would be solved in Parliament, which is a good thing. The Republican People’s Party (CHP) has been saying this for some time anyway. The Co-Chairs of the HDP also said in their meeting with Kilicdaroglu that the problem would be solved in Parliament. This is the way it should be. If the legislative body is the Turkish Grand National Assembly (TBMM), it would be the most desirable thing for Turkey's number one problem to be solved there, and for a broad consensus to be achieved and a result to be reached. This is what should happen, but describing an issue through a slogan is one thing while getting into the nuances of [that issue] is something else entirely. The Kurdish question is already an incredibly complicated problem. It is not an easy matter. The location for its resolution may be Parliament. But it is not sufficient to simply say this. It is an intricate problem; a lot of progress needs to be made. As a starting point, the Parliament is a good place, but it is important to not revert to the state of the past. [Of course], with an Erdogan presidency and with the existing balance in parliament, a peace process is entirely out of the question. First, the parliamentary balance and the presidency must shift, and then the new parliament will tackle this issue and perhaps make progress.


If the presidency changes and the parliamentary balance shifts, would you be interested in taking on an active role in the resolution of the Kurdish question?

If the process develops in a way that leads me there, then absolutely. But the Kurdish question is a topic that is criminalized in Turkey. Turkey is still not a normal country. Turkey’s first priority is to become a normal country. Turkey cannot become a democracy unless the Kurdish question is resolved. But the Kurdish question cannot be resolved unless Turkey democratizes. This is such a sticky situation, the factors have become so intertwined, almost like conjoined twins. We cannot speak of what needs to come first. However, a foundation of basic democratization and normalization must be established in order for the Kurdish issue to be discussed in Turkey and for Turkey to democratize and address the Kurdish issue. That being said, some of the elected representatives of the Kurds are in prison and some are abroad — though this situation is of course not limited to the Kurds — and without a normalization in these matters, without the iron doors being opened, without those in exile being allowed to return, we will not be able to talk about the Kurdish question.

Lastly, if you are elected for parliament, what would be the first issue you would like to change, and how?

If elected, my first order of business would be the evacuation of Turkey’s prisons. I will struggle towards the goal of emptying those prisons of the political representatives who are imprisoned there unjustly and of ensuring that the people in exile can once again return to their country.