Gov’t-HDP talks intensify on eve of possible start of Kurdish negotiations

Gov’t-HDP talks intensify on eve of possible start of Kurdish negotiations

Gov’t-HDP talks intensify on eve of possible start of Kurdish negotiations

Deputy Prime Mnister Yalçın Akdoğan (L), who frequently meets HDP members, speaks with Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç in parliament. AA Photo.

With the traffic in Ankara getting busier on the eve of an expected declaration that the talks between the government and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) have shifted into formal negotiations, Deputy Prime Minister Yalçın Akdoğan, a key name in the talks, met on Feb. 12 with a member of the team visiting the jailed leader of the outlawed organization.

After the meeting, Akdoğan told reporters that the parliamentary debate on a controversial draft security bill, which has been strongly reacted against by all opposition parties, has again been suspended.

“We expressed our concerns and ideas. We will meet again,” said Sırrı Süreyya Önder, the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputy who is scheduled to meet soon with jailed PKK leader Abdullan Öcalan, on Feb. 11.

“Developments regarding the solution process are not negative,” said HDP Co-Chair Figen Yüksekdağ the day before, adding that a joint statement was possible if negotiations start.

“We are already ready for that. The government has not been able to complete its preparations. We expect to start negotiations within two weeks,” she told reporters at parliament.

A HDP delegation held talks with Akdoğan on Feb. 10. A delegation including pro-Kurdish independent deputy Leyla Zana is expected to travel to İmralı on Feb. 13, subject to the weather conditions, which have been inclement around Istanbul for the past few days.

Hatip Dicle, the head of the Democratic Society Congress (RDTK) and a prominent name in the Kurdish movement, also said an announcement may come before Nevruz on March 21, considered by Kurds to mark the first day of spring.

“But I do not know if it will be ready in time. It depends on the level of talks … All we are working for is to reach a decision before the [June 7] elections and to declare it to the whole world,” Dicle said.

He added that they wanted to visit senior PKK leaders on the Kandil Mountains in northern Iraq before visiting Öcalan.

Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç also said after a cabinet meeting on the evening of Feb. 11 that the Kurdish resolution process was in a “positive phase.”

The HDP has been mediating the talks between government officials, Öcalan and the PKK headquarters since late 2012.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said the HDP was at crossroads and could “choose whether or not to embrace the whole society.”

“Guns, terror, violence and a language based on these things, or politics and peaceful methods,” Davutoğlu said in an interview on state broadcaster TRT, detailing the two possible roads for the HDP.
“Believing in democracy and peace will put an end to the pain. The HDP and İmralı [the island where Öcalan is held] should decide on this today,” he added.

The PM also criticized the HDP’s joining of forces with the other opposition parties at parliament objecting to the security bill.

Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the head of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), said the Kurdish issue could not be solved via security measures, in reference to the government-led draft bill that grants the police with wide-ranging new authorities.

“The Kurdish issue can be solved with a first class democracy and freedom, not security measures,” Kılıçdaroğlu said in an interview on private broadcaster NTV. “I don’t believe the HDP is sincere on the issue either. Everyone is exploiting this issue.”