No chance of breakup, BDP tells Erdoğan
ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s speculation that there could be a breakup within the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) has drawn a strong rejection from senior BDP figures, who played down Erdoğan’s remarks as “wishful thinking.”
“He [Erdoğan] is not voicing his impressions, he is voicing his wish. It’s the government of Erdoğan who banned the Democratic Society Party [DTP] [the predecessor of the BDP], stripped Ahmet Türk and Aysel Tuğluk of deputy status and banned Leyla Zana from politics for five years,” BDP deputy group chair Hasip Kaplan said.
Speaking to reporters during his visit to Brazil, Erdoğan said he had the impression of a possible purge within the BDP, recalling independent Kurdish deputy Leyla Zana’s remarks.
“Zana said she had an appetite to meet with me. I have the impression of some kind of purge within the BDP against certain figures. The leader of the terrorist organization [convicted leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) Abdullah Öcalan] eliminates certain names. Former Diyarbakır Mayor Feridun Çelik was not re-nominated. You know the case of Ahmet Türk,” Erdoğan said.
Zana, an independent deputy from Diyarbakır, said in an interview last week that Erdoğan could solve the Kurdish issue and that she had never lost her hope for him.
Zana was elected as a deputy in the 2012 elections from the bloc backed by the BDP, however, she cannot be a party member until 2014 because of her political ban. The Constitutional Court in 2009 banned the DTP and the party’s founders Tuğluk and Zana, as well as party leader Türk, from politics for five years.
The BDP was cool to Zana’s remarks, with party co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş saying that to be hopeful about the AKP was naive. He later said it was pointless to expect an intra-party argument with the BDP, praising Zana as “invaluable.”
BDP co-chair Gültan Kışanak also gave a cynical response to Erdoğan, describing his remarks as “fortune telling.”
“Besides his authoritarian tendency, he is improving his fortune-telling skills. Leyla Zana and all of us are standing by the struggle for freedom and democracy. There will not be a divergence among us. If he [Erdoğan] has such an intention, he is wrong. Every one of us is on the side of our struggle within the framework of our history of resistance,” Kışanak said.
Kaplan, for his part, said the BDP was a nightmare for Erdoğan, even while he was in Brazil. “Our preparations for the elections worry him very much. Those who expect division within our party should be aware of this: they made such efforts in the past. They called some of us ‘doves’ and some of us ‘hawks,’ but they were not able to succeed,” he said.
Commenting on the issue, BDP-backed independent deputy Türk also dismissed Erdoğan’s remarks. “This [a purge within the BDP] is what Erdoğan expects. There’s nothing like that. Zana says ‘the government can resolve the [Kurdish] issue,’ but Erdoğan’s stance, approach and anger do not raise hopes for a resolution,” Türk told reporters.
No new steps unless PKK lays down arms
Erdoğan has categorically ruled out the possibility of an end to the ongoing military operations against the PKK unless the terrorist group lays down its arms.
“If the terrorist group lays down its arms, we can reach a solution [to the Kurdish question] before 2015. If this happens, the Turkish Armed Forces [TSK] will not use weapons [against the terrorist group]. But we will not take new steps unless the PKK lays down its arms,” the prime minister told reporters on Thursday during his visit to Brazil.
Erdoğan’s remarks came only days after an attack by the PKK on a military outpost in southeast Turkey that killed eight soldiers.
According to Erdoğan, the military may consider stopping anti-PKK operations only if the PKK shifts its position. “It is not possible to cite a date, but a solution [to the Kurdish problem] may be possible if the other side [the PKK] shifts its position. … The moment the terrorist organization lays down its arms, it will be out of the question for the [Turkish] armed forces to use weapons against the organization. But it would not be wise to expect the TSK to lay down its arms. The TSK does not use arms only against the terrorist group. It needs arms to ensure the security of the country, too,” he said.
Erdoğan also said Turkey had gradually secured the support of the international community in its fight against the PKK. He suggested that the PKK’s popularity at an international level today was far less than it was 10 years ago. The PKK is designated as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the European Union and the United States.