Conference: “Kerkuk Problem and Article 140: Dealing with Alternatives”
The views of Kerkuk’s Turkmen and Arabs
at the EU Parliament in Brussels on 23rd June 2008.
What follows is a résumé of Dr. Hassan Aydinli’s interventions.
At one point during the conference a Kurdish ‘agent provocateur’ (who had previously been taking individual photographs of all the people who attended the conference) and who presented himself as a ‘Middle East Journalist’, abruptly and vehemently interfered saying that the conference was pure propaganda, that Kurds had not been invited as speakers and adding that he defied anyone to give instances where Kurds had killed Assyrians or Turkmens.
Ms. Ana Gomes, MEP, answered the Kurd’s false claims that no Kurds had been invited as speakers at the Conference, saying that she had sent out invitations but that no Kurdish representative had shown their willingness or accepted to attend.
On hearing this, the Kurdish agent provocateur left the conference.
Later during the conference Dr. Hassan Aydinli took the floor to react to MEP, Ms. Ana Gomes’ speech, during which she said that the ‘pragmatist Kurds had recently declared in Dubai that they were willing to compromise and to share power in Kerkuk’ .
He further said that Kurds tend to consider the entire north of Iraq as ‘Kurdistan’ and that they want to divide Iraq in two regions: Kurds and Arabs, thereby denying the right of the Turkmens to be recognized as the third main community in Iraq by considering them as a ‘minority’.
Dr Aydinli pointed out that in the draft of the “Kurdish Region Constitution” Kurds have included Turkmen cities and towns in the Kurdish region and they consider Turkmens, Arabs and Keldo-Assyrians as ‘minorities’ living in ‘Kurdistan’. Furthermore, these so-called ‘minorities’ have no right to have their own region or autonomy within Kurdistan (Articles 2, 3 and 6).
Dr Aydinli said that Turkmens are a stabilizing factor for the unity of Iraq and that the denial to recognize the Turkmens’ rights would be a destabilizing factor.
Referring to democracy and fairness he gave the example of the Federal system in Belgium where there are three communities: the Flemish, the Walloons and the German-speaking Belgians, emphasizing that the latter who are the smallest group, with their 72.000 people, have their own region and government in Belgium’s federal system, although they represent less than 1% of the Belgian population, while the 3 million Turkmens in Iraq are being denied the right to have their rights and their own region.
Dr. Aydinli continued on the subject of the marginalization of the Turkmens in today’s Iraq despite the false claims of democracy, by giving the example of the German speaking Belgians, who with their 72.000 people, represent Belgium’s third community. He said that this small group of German speaking Belgians had exactly the same rights as the two main communities in Belgium, the Flemish and the Walloons. Adding that unfortunately Iraq’s 3 million Turkmens are still suffering from discrimination and marginalisation in today’s Iraq.
He further complained about the process of normalization and about the Iraqi Property Claims Commission (IPCC) which to-date has not done anything to compensate the Turkmens for the loss of their properties and lands under the former regime, he said that from the 35.000 claims which have been handed to the commission in Kerkuk four years ago, the Commission has dealt with less than 5.000 claims, all belonging to Kurds, while the remaining 30.000+ claims, ALL belonging to Turkmens, are still pending
Notes taken by Merry Fitzgerald
Assistant of ITF Europe Representative