AKP chance for peace, deputy PM tells Kurds
Deputy PM Beşir Atalay (L), talks to the relative of a air raid victim during his visit last week to Uludere, where a military air raid killed 34 civilians in December 2011. ‘We will increase efforts to draw nearer to the people in the region,’ Atalay said.The Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) rule represents an opportunity to solve the Kurdish conflict that should not be wasted, Deputy Prime Minister Beşir Atalay said yesterday, urging Kurdish politicians to back the government efforts.
“The AKP era is an opportunity to settle the problems of our Kurdish citizens. This opportunity should not be wasted,” Atalay said in an interview with Kanal 7 television.
“I’d like to tell Kurdish politicians and intellectuals to look at the issue sincerely. We are sincere and honest. They should comprehend well the efforts that the AKP and the state are making for democracy and pluralism. But what I see from Kurdish politicians is only new demands and complaints. The progress in the past 10 years is at a scale they could not have dreamed of,” he said.
Atalay said government efforts on the Kurdish question would continue on four tracks. “The security-focused struggle against terrorism will continue without losing pace. Second, we will increase efforts to draw nearer to the people in the region. We’ll go to the most remote corners and reach out to the people. Third, there will be more efficient work concerning northern Iraq. And the fourth step is the continuing steps of democratization,” he said.
Support for MİT chief
Commenting over the recent crisis over the National Intelligence Organization (MİT), Atalay said all security forces remained in good coordination and were displaying high morale. “Naturally, there were a few small [problems], but rapid steps are being taken to compensate [for any issues].”
Referring to MİT chief Hakan Fidan, whom he met March 10 at a security meeting in Istanbul, Atalay said: “We all know the injustice that was done to him. We have all supported him and continue to do so. There is nothing to be demoralized.”
Last month, prosecutors attempted to question Fidan over the alleged relationship between MİT and Kurdish militants.
In further remarks, Atalay said a draft bill aimed at removing restrictions on free speech would be submitted to Parliament in March and added that the government was also unhappy with the imprisonment of journalists.
In comments on mounting international criticism over journalists behind bars, Atalay said:
“I believe such problems will also be resolved in time. Turkey went through much worse days in the past. I do not commend the [recent arrests of scores of journalists]. I wish they had not happened. But you can come across a few negative examples in any country.”
He said both his officials and the Justice Ministry were currently combing a series of laws to weed out provisions that have obstructed press freedoms and free speech. “Unfortunately, there have been some developments and practices that we do not approve of either. They are overshadowing all the good things and harming Turkey’s image,” he said.