Friday (24 September) was the last day of a one-week school boycott in the pre-dominantly Kurdish region of south-eastern Anatolia. The boycott was initiated by the Movement for Research on the Kurdish Language, Development and Education (TZP- Kurdî) with the aim to claim the right to education in the mother tongue. At the end of the boycott, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan declared: "Nobody should expect us to agree to education in the mother tongue. The official language in Turkey is Turkish".
In an extended meeting of provincial chairmen of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) held in Ankara, Erdoğan embraced in his speech the topics of the referendum on 12 September, i.e. the constitution, talks with the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), education in the mother tongue and attacks on art galleries in the Tophane district on Istanbul's European side.
On the school boycott the Prime Minister said, "There are channels broadcasting in different languages 24 hours a day. What happened, did we split in two? You can open courses in your mother tongue. But if you expect us to allow official education in the mother tongue, we will not be in for that. The official language in Turkey is Turkish".
Talks with BDP
Erdoğan indicated: "We have no reservation against talking to the CHP [Republican People's Party] and the MHP [Nationalist Movement Party] as we did with the BDP". He continued:
"We are always open to resolve the chronic problems to end the bloodshed and work out a new constitution. But if anyone asks us to meet with a terrorist organization, we are not going to do that. We are not fostering any fantasies such as talking to terrorist organizations".
"Don't exaggerate the attacks like that"
Erdoğan described the recent attacks on three art galleries in Tophane/Istanbul as "local" incidents. He said:
"The ones who show the incident in Tophane as a mirror of Turkey as a whole are playing an old game. One or two impertinent people say 'Well, this is the result of saying yes' [in the referendum on the constitutional reform package]. I grew up in that region, I know every street. It does not make sense to exaggerate this issue like that. Can you find art galleries and entertainment venues in Tophane only? Where was such an incident experienced until now? A similar incident did not happen". (SP/EÖ/VK)
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