Over the past three weeks, we have held a series of meetings at the office in London with MPs and advisers from each of the three main political parties in Turkey – namely the AK Party, CHP and HDP. Each meeting, carried out under the Chatham House Rules, followed a similar format and was designed to allow a two-way discussion between them and DPI staff and advisers. In addition DPI hosted a meeting with the CHP Chairperson, Kemal Kiliçdaroğlu. The event, which took place at Dartmouth House, provided an opportunity for a candid and constructive exchange between the CHP leader, accompanied by his delegation of MPs, and other attendees who included former statesmen and experts on conflict resolution and democratisation. We feel that we have staged four insightful, informative and thought-provoking meetings.
The purpose was to discuss and assess recent developments and the current situation in Turkey, as well as prospects for democratisation and the resolution process in the run up to the 2019 elections and beyond. Each meeting, which took place over two days, also provided a platform for discussion with international experts, who were able to share their first-hand experience of conflict resolution cases, with a particular focus on the role of opposition parties in conflict resolution and democratisation. Among the experts that contributed to the meetings were Sir Kieran Prendergast, former British Ambassador to Turkey; Bertie Ahern, former prime minister of Ireland; Jonathan Powell, Tony Blair’s former chief of staff; Dermot Ahern, former minister of foreign affairs for the Republic of Ireland and Nick Stewart QC, deputy high court judge and DPI board chairman. Participants also provided valuable input on DPI’s planned activities for 2018 and shared suggestions for continuing cooperation between DPI and their respective parties.
Discussion in Turkey is focused on what will happen in the upcoming elections in 2019. The three parties each talked about the importance of democratisation, justice and equality and all three recognise the need to increase their support among broader constituencies beyond their core electorate and to capture the women and youth votes in particular. It is expected that the resolution process will remain essentially ‘frozen’ with little change expected until after elections. There were discussions on how this interim period can best be utilised for planning and preparation until such a time as the process can be resumed. The importance of cross-border dynamics and regional developments in this regard was also considered. Participants also highlighted the need for a continuation of DPI’s work in supporting platforms for dialogue in a tense and polarised environment in the country. DPI looks forward to developing its cooperation with all three parties in 2018.