Selahattin Demirtaş

'Kurds Are Not a Danger to Turkey'

selahattin demirtas_dpa
The Co-Chair of the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), Selahattin Demirtaş (center) attends the opening ceremony of the Turkish Parliament in Ankara, Turkey, in June.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    The Kurdish HDP party has entered Turkey’s parliament, which may lead to political change in the relationship between Turkey and its Kurdish minority.

  • Facts


    • Talks are underway as parties in Turkey try to form a coalition government, the first in more than a decade.
    • The Kurds are an ethnic group in adjacent sections of southeastern Turkey, western Iran, northern Iraq and northern Syria.
    • The Kurdish party’s election candidates included women, gay people and members of other minorities.
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Selahattin Demirtaş is co-leader of Turkey’s largely Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party, known as HDP.  In national elections on June 7, for the first time, the HDP managed to cross the 10-percent threshold to enter parliament. The success of the party was a major reason why the Justice and Development Party, or AKP, the party of the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, lost its majority in parliament.

The Islamist-rooted AKP is now in talks with the secularist Republican People’s Party (CHP) about a possible grand coalition government.

The Kurdish party’s success came just two years after the start of a peace process in Turkey, with the government in Ankara sitting down to talk with the militant Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK. The PKK took up arms in 1984 in a fight for Kurdish autonomy. The ensuing conflict has killed 40,000 people.

Mr. Demirtaş spoke with German weekly Die Zeit about the pluralism and the changing relationship between Turks and Kurds.

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