Contacts in peace process intensify ahead of crucial visit to Öcalan

Contacts in peace process intensify ahead of crucial visit to Öcalan

Contacts in peace process intensify ahead of crucial visit to Öcalan

DHA Photo

Discussions between parties involved in Turkey’s Kurdish peace process accelerated in the run-up to Nevruz, March 21, which the government has highlighted as a potential milestone for the bid ahead of June 7 parliamentary elections.

Peoples’ Democratic Party’s (HDP) Deputy Parliamentary Group Chair İdris Baluken and Ceylan Bağrıyanık, a women’s rights activist and writer, departed on March 13 for the Kandil Mountains in northern Iraq to hold talks with executives of the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK), a supra organization that includes the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

The wording of a message to be sent by the jailed leader of the PKK, Abdullah Öcalan, to be read out during March 21 festivities Diyarbakır, the southeastern Anatolian province which is of a crucial symbolic importance for Turkey’s Kurdish people, is vital for both the government and PKK militants.

This weekend, probably on March 14, a delegation from the Kurdish political movement that will include HDP executives will visit Öcalan at the İmralı Island Prison in the Marmara Sea where he is serving a life sentence.

With only days to go to the annual festival celebrated on March 21 to mark the beginning of spring, particularly in the country’s predominantly Kurdish Southeast Anatolia region, potential problems have been relegated to the back-burner, at least temporarily.

Controversy erupted following a meeting between Deputy Prime Minister Yalçın Akdoğan and a parliamentary delegation from the HDP, prompting the former to call reported remarks by the latter on the formation of a monitoring body alongside the peace process as “a complete lie.”

The remarks were reportedly delivered by HDP Deputy Parliamentary Group Chair Pervin Buldan following the meeting late on March 12. She reportedly said “a 16-member monitoring delegation” had been formed and that the delegation would accompany a delegation from the HDP during its next visit to Öcalan, which is slated to take place over the weekend.

Akdoğan was swift to deny the reported remarks, posting messages on the issue to his Twitter account shortly after midnight.

“In some print and broadcast outlets, lists of names are being published by stating that the 16-person monitoring delegation has been formed. These are complete lies and fabricated,” Akdoğan said.

“The making of statements, with reference to an ordinary meeting that took place at parliament, which would lead to speculations doesn’t comply with the seriousness of the process,” he added.

Later, before noon on March 13, the HDP Press Office released a brief written statement, noting that a meeting took place between Akdoğan and the HDP delegation composed of Buldan and HDP Istanbul deputy Sırrı Süreyya Önder.

“During the meeting, our delegation conveyed to the government side its opinion and proposal that the monitoring delegation should be formed at once. However, names didn’t come onto the agenda during the meeting as claimed in the media,” the HDP said.