Jailed PKK leader requests discussions on 'normalization' phase, wants to hold press conference

Jailed PKK leader requests discussions on 'normalization' phase, wants to hold press conference

ANKARA - Doğan News Agency
The jailed leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), Abdullah Öcalan, has urged the government to move more quickly to the next phase of the Kurdish peace process and speed up discussions on reforms, while expressing his wish to organize a press briefing from his prison on İmrali island.

"I am hoping to have made progress in the second phase [of the Kurdish resolution process] by the beginning of September, in order to move to the discussions on the third phase, which we refer to as 'normalization.' I have not lost my hope," Öcalan said July 21, according to a statement released by the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP). The statement came after the visit to İmralı island of a parliamentary delegation comprising BDP co-chairman Selahattin Demirtaş and deputy parliamentary group chair Pervin Buldan.

Demirtaş and Buldan met with Öcalan almost a month after their last visit to the island, which had taken place on June 24. The visit was the seventh since the start of the peace process seven months ago.

In the latest statement, Öcalan also warned the government to speed up the process with reference to recent developments in the Middle East. Across the border in Syria, the Democratic Union Party (PYD), which is affiliated to the PKK, has recently been fighting jihadist groups in an attempt to further cement its power in the country's north. 

He also emphasized the need to express himself directly, suggesting the possibility of holding a press conference on the island. "The government should take concrete steps with respect to creating means allowing me to express myself more. I would like to express my unease that those means are currently limited. When there is such a fire around Turkey, creating the means to allow me to fulfill my role on the resolution [of the Kurdish issue] should be natural," Öcalan said, according to the BDP's statement.

"I could make important contributions to moving the process forward healthily if I had the opportunity to directly inform the public through a press meeting on İmralı island. The government should have no hesitations regarding these kind of simple steps," he added.

The meetings between Öcalan and BDP delegations have been continuing in line with the peace process, but the PKK's alleged urban wing - the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) - complained of its absence from the process in a statement released July 19. Hours later, however, the BDP's July 21 visit was announced.