Peace bid must be finalized before 2015 elections, Demirtaş says
ANKARAAn accord to end Turkey’s decades-old Kurdish issue must be completed before the general elections scheduled for June 2015, according to People’s Democratic Party (HDP) co-leader Selahattin Demirtaş.
“The Kurdish issue cannot shoulder another election. Considering the general trends in the Middle East, this should happen,” he said Nov. 20.
Abdullah Öcalan, the jailed leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), also wants to finalize the process before the elections, he said, adding that Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu also told him in person that the government wanted to complete the process within the same timeframe.
Demirtaş, meanwhile, also criticized senior leaders of the PKK who have called for an end to the ongoing peace talks, in remarks to the Dicle News Agency. “Öcalan wants to make peace,” he said.
“Thus, statements such as ‘the process is over,’ ‘there is no meaning to the process,’ ‘let’s not continue the process’ or ‘we don’t need this,’ are putting pressure on Öcalan, not the government,” he said.
“We as all constituents of the Kurdish movement should carefully avoid using negative language,” he said without directly referring to the PKK.
However, Cemil Bayık, a founding member and leading figure of the PKK, has repeatedly said the process has failed.
Bayık said in July that those who think the PKK will abandon armed struggle before the Kurdish people live in a “free and democratic” society are “dreamers.”
Demirtaş had immediately reacted to such a view, saying, “No matter what happens, we will not take weapons into our hands.”
On Oct. 11, Bayık said the PKK had started to send their “guerillas” back into Turkey after they were “withdrawn” in earlier phases of the dialogue.
‘Third eye’ for process
Demirtaş also called for a “third eye” in talks in a bid to objectively share the process with the public.
The talks have stalled since street violence in early October that claimed dozens of lives in country-wide protests calling on the government to facilitate the defense of Syria’s Kurdish-populated town of Kobane by Turkey’s border against Islamic Republic of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants. No HDP teams have visited Öcalan since then.
Still, both officials and HDP executives signaled earlier this week that a new round of HDP visits to Öcalan on İmralı Island were on the way.
“Now the state’s team is having tête-à-tête talks with Mr. Öcalan and none of these meetings are legally taken on the record. Once the talks start again, the state team and our broadened team will be at the table,” Demirtaş told Dicle.
“In addition, there will be a watchdog, sections that we call a third eye. Thus, the discussion will take place under the gaze of many witnesses. The talks will be recorded. The third eye should act as an ‘observation committee so that it can help in issues that parties cannot come to terms; so that it might find out and acknowledge to the public about who is violating the cease-fire and straining the process,” he said.
In a separate interview with daily Cumhuriyet, Demirtaş said such a team could number between 20 and 30.
Inviting a foreign observer to the process was also Bayık’s idea, who said early in November: “We have now reached the point where there has to be movement. That is why we are suggesting a third power observe this process. This could be the United States.”
However, Deputy Prime Minister Yalçın Akdoğan strongly ruled out such an option, saying in a Nov. 17 interview that “this process is a local process.”
John Bass, the newly appointed U.S. ambassador to Turkey, also said in a recent interview with the Daily News that the process was “domestic.” “It is a matter for Turks to resolve,” he said.
Democratic Society Congress (DTK) co-chair Hatip Dicle and Ceylan Bağrıyanık, a women’s rights activist and writer, have been suggested by the party as figures that could join the HDP team to Öcalan, Demirtaş told Cumhuriyet.