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POLITICS >Historic breakthrough over Kurdish problem

Hüseyin Hayatsever - Özgür EkşiANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News

In a watershed for Turkish politics, the leaders of the two largest parties agree to a joint road map to end the Kurdish problem

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A footage grabbed from a video from the web site of the Turkish Prime Ministry’s Press Office shows Prime Minister Erdoğan (L) with the main opposition leader Kılıçdaroğlu (R) at talks on Turkey’s long-standing Kurdish problem in a rare meeting in Ankara.

A footage grabbed from a video from the web site of the Turkish Prime Ministry’s Press Office shows Prime Minister Erdoğan (L) with the main opposition leader Kılıçdaroğlu (R) at talks on Turkey’s long-standing Kurdish problem in a rare meeting in Ankara.

Turkish politics witnessed a historic breakthrough yesterday as the ruling and main opposition parties agreed on a road map for the solution of the decades-old Kurdish question, with or without the contribution of Parliament’s other two political parties.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Republican People’s Party (CHP) chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu met in an hour-long landmark meeting at the Justice and Development Party (AKP) headquarters in Ankara. The social democrat party introduced its 10-point package that foresees the establishment of two commissions, inside and outside Parliament, to shape the way to solve the Kurdish issue and end violence that has claimed the lives of nearly 40,000 people since the early 1980s.

 “We found the CHP’s proposals positive,” deputy AKP leader Ömer Çelik said after the meeting. “Now, the CHP has the duty to convince other oppositional parties. In the case of the agreement of all oppositional parties, then our prime minister will support the establishment of this Social Consensus Commission.”

While the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) gave a cold shoulder to the proposal, the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) praised the move.

If the opposition parties object to the process, Çelik said the CHP and AKP would set a mechanism consisting only of representatives of their two parties, isolating the MHP and the BDP. “This would be an extra-parliamentary commission. This was proposed by our prime minister.”

Erdoğan was accompanied by Deputy Prime Minister Beşir Atalay, deputy parliamentary group chair Mahir Ünal and Çelik, while Kılıçdaroğlu was joined by deputy leaders Faruk Loğoğlu and Sezgin Tanrıkulu, as well as deputy parliamentary group leader Akif Hamzaçebi.
Çelik said the CHP’s language over Kurdish question was very positive.

‘Let’s reduce the tension’

Kılıçdaroğlu called on Erdoğan to ease the increasing political tension, Loğoğlu told reporters after the meeting. “I’m ready to do everything to ease the increasing political tension. We can visit Uludere [where 34 Kurdish civilians were killed in a botched air raid by Turkish air forces last year] together as a message of conciliation,” Loğoğlu quoted Kılıçdaroğlu as saying. However, Erdoğan did not respond to his rival’s offer, Loğoğlu added.

MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli rejected the CHP proposal once again yesterday, denouncing the move as “treason,” describing the CHP’s suggested Wise People Commission as a proposal by Abdullah Öcalan, the convicted leader of outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). “There is no such thing as the Kurdish question,” he said.

Loğoğlu said his party would seek the support of both the MHP and the BDP regardless of their stances. “If the MHP officials express their objections and propose a different name for the [Wise People] commission, we are ready to accept it. Or if they totally disagree with forming a Wise People Commission, we can try other ways. But first, they should agree on establishing the parliamentary commission,” Loğoğlu said.

Kılıçdaroğlu may ask for appointments from the MHP and BDP in the coming days, Loğoğlu added.

Conciliatory messages ahead of meeting

Speaking ahead of the meeting, Erdoğan said they had never shut the doors on any proposal for a solution to the Kurdish issue. “Our doors are wide open today as well. We lend an ear to whoever brings a solution proposal. We don’t have any precondition or prejudice. We should not act as ruling and opposition parties on this national issue. Instead, we should act as conscientious people who make efforts to stop the tears of mothers,” Erdoğan said at the convention of the Turkish Exporters’ Assembly (TİM).

Kılıçdaroğlu, however, accused the government of remaining indifferent to terror issue in comments at the same meeting. “If the government had been sensitive about terror, they would have [at least] put one word related to the terror problem in the government’s program. There was nothing related to terror in the government’s program,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.

Erdoğan also said they were left alone in 2009 when the Kurdish initiative was launched, recalling that then-CHP leader Deniz Baykal had rejected an appointment request on the issue. In a quick response, Kılıçdaroğlu said the Kurdish initiative process of 2009 was “not that innocent.”

“I’m sorry to say it, but that period was not that innocent. Images of that time have not been erased from the societal memory,” Kılıçdaroğlu said, referring to the controversial surrender of a group of PKK militants at the Habur border crossing in 2009 as part of government’s Kurdish opening strategy.
Despite the battle of words, Kılıçdaroğlu also said they were taking a step without any prejudices.
Appealing to all political party leaders, he said: “You may disagree with our proposals; [if so], then bring your own proposals and we will lend our support. Our main objective is to put an end to terror.”
Erdoğan also appealed to Bahçeli, saying: “You cannot get anywhere by shutting doors. There should not be hostility in politics or the labeling of your opponent as a traitor.”

June/07/2012

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