ANKARA (MEMO) – Turkey’s main opposition party has visited Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish region and met with officials there, leading many to suggest that it is seeking to win more votes from the country’s own Kurdish community.
A delegation from the Republican People’s Party (CHP) made the visit to the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, Erbil, over the weekend, where the delegates met Prime Minister Masrour Barzani. During the visit, CHP deputy chairman Oguz Kaan Salici said that, “This is our first visit but be assured that it won’t be the last.”
The visit was a surprising move, as the CHP is a traditionally nationalist and Kemalist party. It has historically opposed negotiations and a peace process with Kurdish groups, namely the radical Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) which has conducted a terrorist campaign in Turkey for decades in pursuit of a “separate state”.
It was the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) headed by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that was initially open to talks over the past two decades. This is a divisive issue between the AKP and nationalist parties such as the CHP.
Such moves, as well as Erdogan’s close relationship with the Barzani family’s Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) in northern Iraq and his toning down of ethnic division, has won many Kurdish votes within Turkey.