Erdoğan-Zana talks dismissed by PKK

Erdoğan-Zana talks dismissed by PKK

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Erdoğan-Zana talks dismissed by PKK

Labeled as ‘historic peace meeting,’ Prime Minister Erdoğan (R) meets with a leading Kurdish politician Leyla Zana, who calls for talks between the PKK and the state. AA Photo

A meeting between the country’s prime minister and a prominent Kurdish politician with the prospect of finding a peaceful way to solve the decades-old Kurdish question was put down by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which dismissed these efforts saying, “They have entered into a military-solution process.”

Independent member of Turkish Parliament Leyla Zana spoke at a press conference at Parliament on July 1 following her 1.5-hour long meeting with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Saturday. She called on the government to restart stalled talks with Kurdish militants following much-anticipated talks with the prime minister while calling it “unrealistic” to expect an end to the Kurdish conflict merely by asking militants to disarm.

“The only way which has not been followed is a sustainable negotiation,” Zana, who is a legendary figure in the Kurdish political movement, said yesterday.

“In this regard, I said the Oslo meetings were a threshold, and that these talks should restart,” Zana said, referring to talks between the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) and PKK representatives abroad between 2009 and 2011 in a series of meetings publicly known as the “Oslo talks.” The talks collapsed after a PKK attack killed 13 soldiers near Silvan, Diyarbakır in July 2011.

During the June 30 meeting, Zana said she told Erdoğan that the security-based policies which have been employed for years in an attempt to resolve the Kurdish issue had borne no fruit.

Zana also suggested that transferring imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan to house arrest could help reach a solution. “I emphasized that this country, which broke a taboo like [abolishing] the death penalty, could put Mr. Öcalan under house arrest and that this has vital importance,” she said. While welcoming the government’s announcement to introduce Kurdish elective lessons in public schools in the coming school year as “a positive development,” Zana said the courses would be far away from meeting the Kurdish people’s demands for education in their mother tongue. “No people in the world learn their mother tongue by paying money for it.”

PKK rejection

However, the meeting between Erdoğan and Zana was put down by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which dismissed these efforts saying, “They have entered into a military-solution process.” “The AKP [Justice and Government Party] government lost the war it staged against the Kurds and Kurdish freedom movement in the last year,” Duran Kalkan, one of leaders of the PKK, said yesterday in an interview with Fırat news agency.

Kalkan challenged Zana’s description of Erdoğan as the sole person who can solve the problem, asking why the prime minister did not try to do so in the last 10 years. “Everyone has to be realistic about this issue. Realities should not be ignored in the name of some simple approaches or gains. Everyone should be serious, realistic and consistent,” Kalkan said.

Positive messages from BDP

Ahmet Türk, another independent deputy who served as the co-leader of the BDP before the 2011 elections, said the roadmap announced by Zana was no different from theirs. In response to some circles’ criticism of Zana for her statement that the problem could only be solved by Erdoğan, Türk said “Reactions against Zana were not because she said peace should prevail, but because she took the initiative without consulting her friends.”

Speaking later yesterday in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır, BDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş said his party would positively approach any contribution to finding a solution despite earlier saying the Zana-Erdoğan meeting would not be conducted with party consent.

“God willing, [the meeting] will be good,” Demirtaş said, noting that a good outcome would depend upon Erdoğan’s approach to the “İmralı-Oslo protocols.” İmralı is the name of the island in the Marmara Sea where Öcalan is serving his life sentence.

“The approach to the protocols is a sincerity test. I hope that the prime minister takes these chances offered to him. As the BDP, we will positively approach all kinds of contributions. It has been a long time since the ball has been in the prime minister’s court,” Demirtaş said.

Erdoğan however repeated his calls to BDP lawmakers to distance themselves from the terror organization and denounce terrorism. “Can you hear from one of these party officials that this is a terror organization? No, you cannot. They cannot. Westerners even admit that this is a terror organization,” the prime minister said in his address to his party’s Kayseri branch congress.

“Those who see the ugly face of terror do courageously speak about the realities. We want right-minded people to stand and talk about it at this very critical period,” Erdoğan said.