Assembly may open earlier for Kurdish bid: Turkish PM Erdoğan

Assembly may open earlier for Kurdish bid: Turkish PM Erdoğan

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Assembly may open earlier for Kurdish bid: Turkish PM Erdoğan

AA Photo

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has heralded the probable early arrival of a long-awaited package of reforms dubbed the “democratization package.” The step comes as the country has become a global center of attention, this time in a negative sense, due to concerns about government-led actions considered steps back on democracy.

Erdoğan signaled the move as he spoke to reporters Aug. 8 after performing morning prayers at the Süleymaniye Mosque of Istanbul on the first day of Eid al-Fitr, making clear that Parliament might reconvene early from its summer recess to pass laws expanding rights.

Adoption of the set of reforms would mark a crucial threshold in the ongoing, yet stalled, “peace/resolution process” aimed at ending the three-decade conflict between Turkey’s security forces and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Erdoğan said he and his colleagues would review and finalize the package during and after Eid and added that this package was actually the fulfillment of promises given during a ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) congress in the fall – a bid to indicate that the government was not taking this step due to pressure from Kurds involved in the peace process.

“However now, through an update, my friends are completing our work on these articles. In this way, God willing, we will be announcing our democratization package aimed for the new period. It’s possible Parliament may be opened earlier,” Erdoğan was quoted as saying by Anadolu Agency.

Parliament, according to its regulations, is set to reopen Oct. 1.

CHP promises ‘the greatest contribution’

A strongly worded statement of support for the acceleration of the peace process came from main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu as he spoke to reporters in the Eastern Anatolian province of Tunceli, his hometown, where he was observing the first day of Eid.

“The institution of politics’ taking responsibility is the means of providing peace and serenity,” Kılıçdaroğlu told reporters when asked about the peace process. He also referred to his party’s previously announced 17-article “Freedom and Democracy Declaration.”

“The way of peace and serenity in Turkey is through more freedom and more democracy. If the government takes significant steps on this issue, nobody will have a doubt, it will be the Republican People’s Party that will make the greatest contribution,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.

The ambivalence of the government is still at issue, according to the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), whose deputies have been taking part in parliamentary delegations visiting jailed PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan, a key player in the process, several times since the public beginning of the process.

Need for ‘a state apology’

BDP Şırnak deputy Hasip Kaplan referred to the recent court rulings in the Ergenekon coup plot case and said the case related to the sufferings of the Kurdish people, especially in the 1990s, including thousands of unsolved murders.

“I shall openly say our people are not after revenge,” Kaplan was quoted as saying by daily Radikal’s website Aug. 8, as the veteran politician emphasized that what the Kurdish people wanted was the fair creation of a law of making peace with the past.

“As a pre-step of ‘making peace [with the past],’ we believe that the time has come for a state apology for the massacres of the ‘90s,” Kaplan said. “This will also contribute to the process. Our eyes are on the democracy package, the new Constitution package, the dungeons and the mountains.” He added that he hoped for a Turkey in which all channels for democratic politics would be opened.

While addressing people late Aug. 7 in Yüksekova in the Southeastern Anatolian province of Hakkari, BDP Van deputy and parliamentary group deputy chair Pervin Buldan spoke about their meetings with the government, with Öcalan and with the PKK leadership based in the Kandil Mountains in northern Iraq, all held within the framework of the process.

“We have presented the government a 25-article democratization package we drafted. Our democratization package – which includes the demands of the Kurdish people, the will of the Kurdish people and how Turkey will become democratized – is in the hands of the government now,” Buldan was quoted as saying by Doğan news agency, as she reiterated that the government had been given until Sept. 1 to prepare this democratization package.