I don’t have authority to grant general amnesty: PM Erdoğan
Prime Minister Recp Tayyip Erdoğan gave a live interview on Nov. 20 to the private broadcaster A Haber. AFP photoPrime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has dismissed once and for all claims and speculations that his weekend speech in Diyarbakır contained hints of a general amnesty as part of the ongoing Kurdish peace process.
“There was a misunderstanding. We are making a wish, a prayer [saying] the day will come when those who are in the mountains will come down and the prisons will empty. They instantly take it as a general amnesty. But as a prime minister, I don’t consider myself having the authority to grant amnesty to a murderer,” Erdoğan said during a live interview on Nov. 20 with private broadcaster A Haber.
“I could only do that regarding crimes against the state. But how can I go and forgive a murderer?” he asked.
Commenting on Iraqi Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani’s alleged remarks referring to the issue of an eventual amnesty for the jailed leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) Abdullah Öcalan, Erdoğan said that the interlocutor in this question was the court.
“If Mr. Barzani has said something about an amnesty for Öcalan, he should not have done it. Because the court has made a decision in this respect and [Öcalan] is continuing to serve his sentence,” he said.
The leader of the Kurdish Regional Government was Erdoğan’s special guest during his visit to the most populous city of southeastern Turkey. During his speech, Barzani urged the Kurdish population to support the government’s peace bid, while Erdoğan pronounced for the first time the word “Kurdistan” referring to the autonomous Iraqi region.
In response to criticism of his decision to use the expression, which has long been taboo among Turkish politicians, Erdoğan said that even Atatürk himself had pronounced the word as it could be seen in the first assembly’s minutes.
“So was Gazi Mustafa Kemal separatist? Those who call me separatist, how will they describe [Atatürk’s] words,” he said.
Erdoğan also thanked the iconic Kurdish musician Şivan Perwer for returning to Turkey on the occasion of Barzani’s visit to Diyarbakır after a self-condemned exile of 38 years. Erdoğan also promised Perwer to assist him if he wanted to regain Turkish citizenship.
“Mr. Barzani’s speech in Diyarbakır and on television was meaningful to make this meeting a milestone. We are in the midst of a resolution process. We make efforts to bring about a peaceful atmosphere. In some way, this was a matter of courage,” Erdoğan said.
In an earlier speech, Erdoğan had called once more on every segment of the society, especially the business groups, to back the ongoing process.