CHP leader warns peace process with Öcalan as counterpart doomed to fail

CHP leader warns peace process with Öcalan as counterpart doomed to fail

Okan Konuralp ANTALYA
CHP leader warns peace process with Öcalan as counterpart doomed to fail

Main opposition leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu. AA Photo

Amid rising concerns over whether the stalled peace process was approaching an end, Turkey’s main opposition leader has urged the government to put the process on a legitimate track that does not involve Abudllah Öcalan, the jailed leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), as a counterpart.

“If you hold discussions on a legitimate ground, but not behind closed doors, then you would be able to meet all of the citizens’ demands. The issue needs to be thoroughly handled and put on table. Who you will put the issue on the table and hold discussions with? If you do it with Öcalan, then this is a deadlocked process,” said Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), on Nov. 2.

“A state should gather and hold discussions with legitimate bodies. Nobody knows what they are discussing behind closed doors. Engaging with and agreeing with the Peoples’ Democratic Party [HDP] is not a sine qua non for resolving this problem. The place for discussions here is the Parliament,” Kılıçdaroğlu added.

Kılıçdaroğlu’s remarks came at a time when senior commanders of the PKK, as well as executives of the Kurdish Communities Union (KCK), the urban wing of the PKK, argued the government-led process for ending the three-decade long conflict between Turkey’s security forces and the PKK came to an end primarily because of the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) policies.

Playing a central role in the process, Öcalan has been in dialogue with both state officials and members of Parliament since at least late 2012.

Most recently, an article penned by a leading Kurdish politician, independent Van deputy Aysel Tuğluk, fueled debates over the fate of the process due to anger over the government’s perceived lack of support for the Kurds fighting for the Syrian border town of Kobane against the jihadists of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), who have carried out a litany of atrocities including beheadings. 
“The AKP is definitely no longer a partner. Forasmuch as it [the AKP] set the biggest plot against the process by playing the ISIL card. In this regard, those who take care of the state’s future and secular forces should rapidly take responsibility concerning the process,” Tuğluk said in the article published on Oct. 29.

When reminded of Tuğluk’s call, Kılıçdaroğlu was not receptive.

“It is not right to expect the CHP to be a partner in this process. We don’t have such intentions,” Kılıçdaroğlu said, adding that their party has already made their views for resolution of the Kurdish issue public. They shared these views with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan at the time when he was president, he noted.

“We have also stated it should be resolved at Parliament. However, they [the government] said they would resolve it through their own ‘methods.’ The picture that has emerged is not heartwarming. It is built on mutual distrust,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.

Kılıçdaroğlu also said his party would not completely set aside all advancements along the peace process if they come to power.

“We will not begin everything from scratch by rejecting all of the things [discussed],” he said, while, noting the CHP would not take over any commitment that is not accepted by people.