Intel service could meet jailed PKK leader: Erdoğan
Vahap Munyar - DAKAR/ISTANBUL
AA photoThe country’s intelligence service could begin meetings with Abdullah Öcalan of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), but the government should not accept the jailed leader as a counterpart in steps to revive the stalled “resolution” process aiming to end Turkey’s three-decade long PKK conflict, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said.
“I said, ‘The resolution process is in the fridge.’ İmralı can never be and should definitely not be a counterpart for the government,” Erdoğan said on Feb. 5.
“İmralı” is commonly used as a byword for Öcalan, who is serving a life sentence on the island prison of İmralı on the Marmara Sea after he was captured by Turkish security forces in Kenya in 1999. Since late 2012, he has played a central role in a peace process aimed at ending the conflict between Turkey’s security forces and PKK militants, which has killed thousands since it started in the late 1970s. Öcalan had been in dialogue with state officials, the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), and its predecessor, the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) before and during the start of the process.
“Various institutions of the state, the National Intelligence Organization [MİT] in the first place, can meet with İmralı. The government would take steps accordingly. For example, we were letting lawmakers go and they were going [to meet Öcalan]. But later I told my fellows that lawmakers should definitely not go either. Having let them go, what results have we yielded? Is there any sense in giving them opportunity to show off?” Erdoğan asked, while speaking with reporters en route from Dakar to Istanbul as he wrapped up a Latin America tour that covered Chile, Peru and Ecuador.
In remarks published on Feb. 5, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu ruled out engagement with Öcalan in efforts for the process’s revival.
“Dolmabahçe was a unilaterally made statement. The laying down of arms was promised,” Davutoğlu was quoted as saying in remarks published in several newspapers, referring to a Feb. 28, 2015 agreement between the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and HDP officials, dubbed the “Dolmabahçe Agreement.”
“In last ten days, I set four tables. The table doesn’t mean to have Öcalan seated with three or five persons. Most of the people I have invited are people inclined towards the HDP. There are NGOs from all kinds of views among them. This is the table and this table will go on from now on too,” Davutoğlu said, referring to his recent meetings with opinion leaders and representatives of NGOs and business sectors from Turkey’s east and southeast, the epicenter of clashes since they last restarted in July 2015.