‘Lay down arms,’ says Turkish PM after PKK kills 8

‘Lay down arms,’ says Turkish PM after PKK kills 8

HAKKARİ / ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
‘Lay down arms,’ says Turkish PM after PKK kills 8

Military forces stage a largescale operation in the east after PKK militants killed at least eight soilders in Hakkari’s Dağlıca district. DHA photo

Ankara was in a state of alarm yesterday following an attack by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party’s (PKK) on Turkish troops along the Iraqi border, with many suggesting the assault was designed to sabotage ongoing efforts to find a political solution to the Kurdish question.

“The terror organization wants to sabotage the atmosphere of trust and stability and is continuing its bloody attacks at a moment when efforts are being exerted to strengthen social peace and resolve problems,” President Abdullah Gül said in a written statement yesterday. Underlining that the attack was aimed at debilitating the will to solve the problem, Gül said, “I curse this treacherous attack.”

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who is currently in Mexico for the G-20 summit, renewed his calls for the PKK to lay down its weapons and added that his government had never negotiated with the terrorists and would never do so. “We’ll sooner or later solve this issue. … Our sole concern is to establish peace and stability in our country,” he told reporters.Erdoğan said the only way forward for the “terrorists is to lay down arms.”

“After that will they go to different countries, such practices have been tried before, they are welcome to go,” the prime minister said, adding that Turkey would not, and could not, allow such operations to continue.

Response to BDP

When told that the leader of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) had made a similar call yesterday, Erdogan said: “I just want to say to him ‘good morning.’ If they are honest and if they have an influence over the terrorists then they have to take the necessary steps. … The terrorists should drop their weapons.”

Eight soldiers were killed and 19 were wounded yesterday during clashes in the southeastern province of Hakkari. Military operations to locate those responsible for the attack were continuing at two points along the Iraqi border as the Hürriyet Daily News went to print. Some 18 PKK members were killed in the counter-operation that was launched after a government meeting, a statement said.

Meanwhile, one soldier was also killed in a separate PKK attack in the southern province of Hatay’s Belen district.

According to military sources, two separate crowded terrorists groups carried out yesterday’s bloody attacks against the military outposts. Militants first targeted the Dağlıca outposts at 3 a.m. and then Yeşiltaş at 5 a.m. with heavy artillery, including mortars. Soldiers immediately responded, but there were casualties due to the mortar fire.

It has also been learned that troops in the Yeşiltaş outpost had been recently removed from Tekirdağ 5th Mechanized Unit.

U.S. Ambassador to Turkey Francis Ricciardone also condemned the attack with a written statement, adding that “the United States will continue to stand with the people and government of Turkey in their fight against the PKK.”

As the attack came while Erdoğan is in Mexico, senior government and military officials convened under the leadership of deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç and with the participation of Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz.

“This is not the first time we have been faced with such an attack. You know the prime minister is Mexico, there is no need for him to cut his program, things are under control,” Arınç said. Chief of General Staff Gen. Necdet Özel, as well as other land and gendarmerie force commanders, rushed to Hakkari early yesterday.

CHP calls for a solution

Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) chair Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu yesterday called on the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) to lay down its arms without preconditions. He also renewed his calls for all parties to find a political way to deal with the Kurdish issue in the aftermath of the Dağlıca attack.

Alluding to the secret talks in 2009 between the government and the PKK, Kılıçdaroğlu said the Kurdish issue could not be resolved with “illegitimate relations.”

“We should not seek a solution with illegitimate relations. We can resolve all kinds of problems under this [Parliament] roof,” Kılıçdaroğlu said, tacitly referring his party’s proposal of establishing a “societal conciliation commission” under Parliament to find a way to solve the Kurdish issue.

Kılıçdaroğlu said: “The terrorist organization [PKK] must lay down its arms without any precondition.”

Use all means, MHP says

Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli called the government to use all means to eradicate terrorists, criticizing all three political parties in Parliament for offering political dialogue to solve the problem.

Bahçeli once again spurned the main opposition Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) proposal to establish a parliamentary commission to solve the Kurdish issue and said he would not meet with CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu about the issue “under any circumstances.”

“What will you talk with us within the scope of the so-called Kurdish question? Will you propose legitimizing terror, amnesty to [outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party] PKK and the release of the murderer of İmralı [PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan]?” he asked. Denouncing the latest attack, Bahçeli called on the government “to use all means available to eradicate the PKK terror.”

BDP calls for PKK to lay down arms

In the wake of the latest PKK attack on the southeastern border, which left eight soldiers dead, Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş has called on the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) to lay down their arms , while also appealing to the government to stop all operations within the region.

“The PKK should terminate all of its armed activities and the government should put a stop to all operations. Otherwise, how can we stop this bloodshed? A chance to a political solution should be given. We do know that both PKK and the government will not get a result through conflict and war. Then why are these youths dying? This is our sincere call,” Demirtaş said yesterday at his party’s parliamentary group meeting.

Expressing his sorrow for the death of the eight soldiers, Demirtaş said the government is primarily responsible for their deaths. “We would lend our support to any sincere peace efforts and concrete projects on this issue,” he said.

Demirtaş tacitly commented on independent Kurdish deputy Leyla Zana’s recent remarks, which caused controversy among BDP members, that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan could solve the Kurdish issue.

Despite the fact that last week Demirtaş dismissed Zana’s remarks saying that “to be hopeful of the [Justice and Development Party] AKP is naïve,” he said yesterday that it’s useless to expect an intra-party argument. “Each of our fellows are invaluable for us and they are aware that they are representing a painful memory of our people. We will maintain our struggle hand in hand more than ever,” he said.