World Bulletin / News Desk
Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke at a gathering attended by thousands of people in the predominently Kurdish south-eastern city of Diyarbakir, as he welcomed a historic visit by the president of the autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) of northern Iraq, Masoud Barzani.
After Barzani addressed the crowd, followed by a duet by Kurdish singers Ibrahim Tatlises and Sivan Perwer, who returned to Turkey after 37 years in exile, Erdogan took his turn on stage.
Erdogan began by quoting the renowned poet Sezai Karakoc, saying "Diyarbakir does not only belong to Turks, Kurds or Arabs, it belongs to us all as Irbil does." He later stressed the link with Irbil, the capital of the KRG, once again saying, "If peace exists in Diyarbakir, Irbil will be more peaceful. Should Diyarbakir have peace and welfare, Turkey will be in peace and welfare as well."
Quoting Masoud Barzani’s father, Molla Mustafa Barzani, Erdogan said: "In Turkey we were expecting to be hanged, executed, due to the heavy crackdown in Turkey. However, we came to Turkey with pride, because if we were to die, we wanted to die in Turkey. Instead of the fate we were expecting to meet in Turkey, we saw them treating us very nicely."
He went on to say, "today we welcome Molla Mustafa Barzani’s son, Masoud Barzani, to Diyarbakir…we felt ourselves at home in Irbil, now I want you to feel at home here."
HISTORY OF BROTHERHOOD
Emphasising the long history of brotherhood between Turks and Kurds, he said: "Borders over these lands were ascertained by leaders a hundred years ago, but they failed draw a line between our dialogue, common history, civilisation and future."
Criticizing the politics of the past and pointing out a change of policy for the future, Erdogan claimed, "People who cannot accept that others think differently to them cannot bring peace to the region…those who are not dedicated to serving the people nor feel any love for them cannot bring joy to this region," before reassuring the people, "we will not let single-party rule dominate eastern and southeastern Anatolia."
With both Barzani and Perwer calling the people to peace before him, Erdogan also made a similar call. "We must not stand with the tyrants; rather, we should stand with our own people, our own brothers and with the oppressed. We should not be one the side of separatism, spats and wars, it is important to be on the side of peace, friendship and brotherhood."
Erdogan also welcomed the famous Kurdish singer Sivan Perwer back to Turkey: "Today we are ending 37 years of misunderstanding, distress, sadness and longing…today we welcome back Sivan Perwer. Welcome back to your home, your nest, your nation and the home of your parents. Welcome to Diyarbakir."
ERDOGAN TOUCHES ON IRAQ AND SYRIA
Responding to criticism on his policy towards the Kurds of Syria, particularly towards those in the towns of Qamishli and Rasulayn, Erdogan said: "The suffering of Damascus and Aleppo is our suffering. The blood spilled by the tyrant Assad is the blood of our brothers. The same way that the joy of Basra and Irbil is also our joy, the pain of Qamishli and Rasulayn is our pain. We will not sit at the dinner table with tyrants. Today we are reaching out to the North, South, East and West."
DIYARBAKIR AT THE HEART OF PEACE IN THE SOUTH-EAST
Being at the heart of Turkey's Kurdish community in the south-east of the country, Erdogan made clear his desire for the city to set the example for the entire region: "Remember, you (people of Diyarbakir) have a great responsibility. I want Diyarbakir to be a mediator, guide in the new process, showing a road for it."
He added: "I want Diyarbakir to be united against those who threaten and sabotage (the peace plan). The people need to say ‘enough’ to those who plot over the blood of children. There should be no more politicking over the spilled blood of poor Kurdish children. God willing the future will be very different…all together we will see a new Turkey."
Erdogan and Barzani later made their way to a mass wedding, where they are set to see the matrimony of around 400 couples.Last Mod: 16 Kasım 2013, 17:38