The International Conference on “The European Union, Turkey, the Middle East and the Kurds” took place in the European Parliament on 8-9 March. Read the shortened version of the opening statement by co-organiser Dersim Dağdeviren as well as the final declaration here.
The conference was hosted by the EU Turkey Civic Commission (EUTCC) in cooperation with the The Left Group in the EP, the Greens-European Free Alliance (GREENS/EFA), the Groups of the Free Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D) and the Kurdish Institute Brussels. It was attended by more than 150 participants, including transform! europe. 15 out of 22 speakers and 4 out of 6 moderators were women.
More than a month after the violent earthquake, 100 years after the foundation of the Turkish Republic and in the midst of the war in Syria, which shows no signs of ending, whole parts of the countries lie in ruins. After the severe earthquake of 1999, during which Erdogan was imprisoned for several months, he re-entered the political stage as chair of the AKP and became prime minister a few years later. With elections coming up on 14 May in Turkey, the question is whether this earthquake will bring his end, as many hope or claim, and whether democracy has a chance on the ruins of the republic. There is likely to be more than one opposition, and it remains to be seen which one has a chance, which one will tip the scales.
The Autonomous Administration of Northern and Eastern Syria is caught in the crossfire of the interests of regional and international powers. While the political establishment adorns itself with Jin Jiyan Azadi posters, it remains silent about Turkey's attacks on this region, where gender and ethnic parity is enshrined in the social contract and is a lived reality. In the shadow of the Ukraine war, Turkey is committing war crimes and violating international law on a daily basis. It has no soldiers for disaster relief in the earthquake zone, but it has soldiers for attacks against Kurds - within the country and across the border in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, in Sengal, and in northern Syria. It bombed the latter a few hours after the earthquake. Drone strikes are also a relevant part of Turkish warfare. However, NATO partnership and geostrategic interests dictate silence, including on the use of chemical weapons against Kurdish fighters in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. The renowned forensic physician and president of the Turkish Medical Association, Prof. Sebnem Korur-Fincanci, demanded an independent and International investigation into whether the Turkish army used chemical weapons, and was arrested. It was noted only with usual tweets of concern from European government officials. Is International law not universal after all?
The 17th EUTCC conference taking place in the European Parliament, needs to look at Europe as well. After all, Kurds form one of the largest migration communities in Europe. Europe, the safe haven? Certainly not, neither for all the refugees drowning in the sea at the gates of Europe, nor for the Kurds standing up for their rights. The attack in Paris on 23 December 2022 is the latest example of anti-Kurdish warfare on European soil. While the facts are on the table, the French government and its relevant institutions are clinging to the narrative of a far-right perpetrator who happened to kill three Kurds, including a female politician, who was fighting against IS according to the Jin Jiyan Azadi maxim. Another narrative that the European institutions and numerous European states are trying hard to maintain is that of the terrorist PKK. Its removal from the terror list is imperative for numerous reasons: we urgently need democracy and peace in the Middle East. Anyone who is serious about feminist foreign policy, that is, foreign policy based on peace-building measures, anyone who is truly convinced of Jin Jiyan Azadi, cannot persist in criminalising the authors of this slogan.
Jin Jiyan Azadi means setting out for a new life in freedom, based on women and their revolution. Generated in the mountains of Kurdistan, becoming lived practice in Rojava, the place of the first women's revolution in the Middle East, this slogan is going around the world with the beginning of the protests in Iran. The philosophy of this slogan is an actual alternative, an option for an equal society and a peaceful world.
For more information on the 17th EUTCC conference and to view the Final Resolution, click here.
The final resolution can also be found on the right/bottom (mobile version) under 'Documents' (English, PDF).