MHP leader suggests PM ‘tolerates PKK’ due to presidential bargaining
Bahçeli delivered a speech at a meeting of his party’s parliamentary group on June 3. DHA PhotoNationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli accused both the government and the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) of “incompetence” against the rising activity of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), suggesting that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was going soft as he needs the support of the PKK and its jailed leader for his presidential ambitions.
“Why is the prime minister quiet about the PKK? What did he promise? Which promises has he got? Did he hope for consent and approval from the BDP-HDP-PKK and İmralı murderer?” Bahçeli asked on June 3, delivering a speech at a meeting of his party’s parliamentary group.
The opposition leader was referring to the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) and the Peoples’ Democracy Party (HDP), two sister-parties represented at Parliament that share the same grassroots as the PKK, and PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan, who has been serving a life-sentence in İmralı Island prison in the Marmara Sea since he was captured in 1999.
Listing the PKK’s activities in the predominantly Kurdish-populated Eastern and Southeastern Anatolia over the last week, including road blockages and kidnapping of civilians, Bahçeli said the state “doesn’t exist in the east and the southeast.”
Drawing lines between the rise in PKK activity and the upcoming presidential elections in August, in which Erdoğan is expected to run, Bahçeli also accused the General Staff of dragging its feet in the fight against the PKK.
“The PKK terrorist organization has noticed the prime minister’s weakness and understood his soft belly. That’s why it has been trying to get its demands via terrorizing the presidential election process,” he said.
“It is very saddening that the person who has an illegitimate relationship with the PKK is the prime minister of this country. But such person, no matter what he does, will not be able to become president,” the MHP leader added.
Erdoğan is widely expected to run in Turkey’s first direct presidential election which will be held in two-rounds in August, and support from Kurds, who make up around a fifth of the population, could be decisive for his chances of success.