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Objectives and Activities

The Socialist Party and Others v Turkey, 25 May 1998 [ECtHR]

Case no 21237/93

47.  The Constitutional Court had also criticised Mr Perinçek for having drawn a distinction between two nations, the Kurdish nation and the Turkish nation, in his speeches and of thereby pleading in favour of creating minorities and the establishment of a Kurdish-Turkish federation, to the detriment of the unity of the Turkish nation and the territorial integrity of the State. Ultimately, the SP had advocated separatism.

The Court notes that, read together, the statements put forward a political programme with the essential aim being the establishment, in accordance with democratic rules, of a federal system in which Turks and Kurds would be represented on an equal footing and on a voluntary basis. Admittedly, reference is made to the right to self-determination of the “Kurdish nation” and its right to “secede”; however, read in their context, the statements using these words do not encourage secession from Turkey but seek rather to stress that the proposed federal system could not come about without the Kurds’ freely given consent, which should be expressed through a referendum.

In the Court’s view, the fact that such a political programme is considered incompatible with the current principles and structures of the Turkish State does not make it incompatible with the rules of democracy. It is of the essence of democracy to allow diverse political programmes to be proposed and debated, even those that call into question the way a State is currently organised, provided that they do not harm democracy itself.

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