The Kurdistan Parliament in Exile decided during its 7th Session in Brussels in April to "return to the homeland". Was the Parliament's work in exile without success?
Quite the contrary. The Kurdistan Parliament in Exile carried out very useful work in foreign countries. It represented the name of Kurdish diplomacy and made people listen to the voice of the Kurdish freedom struggle. Our efforts were the first organized diplomacy efforts undertaken by Kurds outside of Kurdistan and Turkey. Despite massive pressure, repression, and attempts by the Turkish government to shut us down, the Kurdistan Parliament in Exile managed to hold sessions every three months.
Following the opening session in The Hague, there were sessions in Vienna, Moscow, Copenhagen, and Rome. There were also sessions in Oslo and Brussels. These were very comprehensive. If we had been unsuccessful, the governments of the nations mentioned above would not have opened up their Parliament buildings to us and received us. During most of these sessions, parliamentarians, experts, and politicians, who are friends of the Kurdish people, were present.
We are defending a just cause. Following the banning of the Democracy Party (DEP) by the Turkish government, there was no chance any more to operate on a legal basis in Ankara. We are an institution which defends the national and democratic rights of the Kurds. The Kurdistan Parliament in Exile is a pluralistic body. Its internal makeup is very rich and diverse.
So the decision to return to Kurdistan has nothing to do with a lack of success?
First of all, we can't stay in exile forever. The Parliament has fulfilled its mission. From Scandinavia to the Black Sea, from America to Russia, the Parliament has represented Kurdish diplomacy and made itself known to the international community.
Secondly, the Kurdish liberation struggle continues to gain in military strength and its liberated zones are expanding. We are militarily represented in Kurdistan, but we also need a political presence. We want to come to power there in the next few months. How else can we build up a legal system? We can't continue to carry on the war and the social life in Kurdistan without a legal system, or with a feudal outlook and methods. A representative expression of popular will is needed there.
The Parliament should, according to our experiences, be expanded and broadened with the participation of regional personalities, regional parliaments, and the guerrilla. It should represent all of the Kurdish people and build up a corresponding legal system. That's why it must be based in Kurdistan, although its representatives will continue to work at the diplomatic level in Europe.
Does this decision have something to do with the negative position relative to the Kurdish question taken by so many Western nations?
Our return to Kurdistan for the necessary reasons stated above has nothing to do with the attitude of Western nations. At present, no Western nation can afford a negative position with respect to the Kurdish question. That would mean turning their backs on law and humanity. That is no longer possible. No one can deny that the Kurds are a force to be reckoned with in the Near East. Of course we are critical of the Kurdistan politics of the Western nations. The Kurdish question is no longer simply a matter of human rights, rather it is a national and an international problem. As long as this problem is not solved through democratic means, there can be no talk of peace in the Middle East. The West needs to recognize this very clearly, otherwise their own economic and political interests will be at risk.
Have you considered the opinions of other Kurdish organizations, such as the PUK and the KDP? Will these organizations accept the Parliament in their region?
We never received any proposals from the KDP or the PUK. Nor are they necessary. The liberation movement in North Kurdistan now has a strong military and ideological base in South Kurdistan as well. That's why we don't need their proposals or their permission. To say it bluntly, Kurdistan belongs to us all and the division between the North and the South has been de facto abolished. A geographic and military unity has actually already been established. There is a protocol in the South whereby all parties and organizations have the possibility for political activity. So there can't be any talk of problems of acceptance in the South.
Beside from the fact that the PUK and the KDP still don't understand that they wasted the opportunities of the Gulf War to build up the "federal state" as the heretofore highest status achieved by the Kurds. This important possibility was not taken advantage of due to feudal and clan-based conduct. The KDP and PUK fought against each other and have hardly been good examples for the people until now. The poverty and divisions in South Kurdistan are their fault. Even today, they have no plan or program for brining peace to Kurdistan.
Do the KDP, PUK, or other organizations have any interest in participating in the Parliament?
Our efforts to work towards a National Congress are becoming more important and necessary with each passing day. As a Parliament, we carried out various activities in this direction. If all Kurdish political parties, organizations, and personalities participate in the National Congress, the KDP and the PUK will have no choice but to take part. In that event, the National Congress can then elect a National Parliament, which can in turn form a government and establish organs of power. We stress that such a step is necessary for national unity among the Kurdish people. Time and events are pressing us towards this. From the point of view of the Kurdish questions, it doesn't matter if Barzani in the Barzan district or Talibani in the Behdinan district can make little regional governments work. These will always be damned, defeated, and oppressed.
Will the Parliament have relations with the regional parliaments in the liberated territories of South Kurdistan?
Of course, our Parliament will cultivate good relations with other parliaments. The Kurds can't continue living without laws and statutes. If the parliaments in South Kurdistan attempt to unite all parties in the South according to democratic principles, then they can count on our friendship and support. There are regional parliaments elected by the people in the liberated zones of South Kurdistan. They will be included under the one roof of our Parliament and they will give the Parliament strength. This integration is unavoidable.
Interview by Thomas Ruttig, 'Neues Deutschland'; Translated by Arm The Spirit from Kurdistan-Rundbrief #10, 20.5.1997
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