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POLITICS >Only 10 to 15 percent of PKK militants withdrew: PM Erdoğan

ISTANBUL / ANKARA

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The remaining PKK militants in Turkey is a problem, Erdoğan says.

The remaining PKK militants in Turkey is a problem, Erdoğan says.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said only a small proportion of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants had left Turkish soil.

“Only some 10 to 15 percent of the PKK has withdrawn,” Erdoğan reportedly said during his address to the group of Wise Persons in Istanbul on June 26.

“We are at a very early stage of the process,” he said implying the recent efforts to find the Kurdish problem a peaceful solution. “The rest of them remaining in Turkey is a problem,” he said.

However, Selahattin Demirtaş, co-chair of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), which has been taking a key role in the recent government initiative to find the Kurdish problem a peaceful solution, said in a televised interview yesterday that most of the PKK militants had moved from their original points and that the current atmosphere was suitable for the government to implement reforms.

The withdrawal rests on an agreement reached in March this year between Abdullah Öcalan, the imprisoned leader of the PKK, and the National Intelligence Organization (MİT), after official negotiations started early January.

The prime minister has also signaled no withdrawal of Turkey’s 10 percent election threshold, while also saying that mother tongue education was off the agenda. These were among the core demands of the BDP. Erdoğan reportedly said that “parties should work hard to pass it.” The BDP has asked for the threshold to be dropped to 3 percent.

The Wise Persons commission, which was gathered by the government as part of the recent bid to find a solution to the Kurdish issue, submitted their final reports to the prime minister on June 26.

The prime minister also said there were no preparations for further official education in students’ mother tongues. “The only official language is Turkish,” Erdoğan said. He stressed that Kurdish was now offered as an elective course in schools and also as private lessons, while also noting that Kurdish language departments were now open in universities.

İdris Baluken, the deputy chair of the BDP’s Parliamentary group, said the media reports about the prime minister’s speech at the last Wise Persons meeting raised concerns.

“We are watching this information, which we did not hear directly from the government but were reflected in the press via the participants of the meeting,” Anadolu Agency quoted him as saying.

June/27/2013

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