PM: Ops would cease if PKK laid down arms

PM: Ops would cease if PKK laid down arms

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
PM: Ops would cease if PKK laid down arms

PM Erdoğan reiterates the government’s line that it has no intention of giving an inch in the battle against the PKK until the militants drop their weapons. AA photo

The Turkish state will not cease operations against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Southeast Anatolia until the militants lay down their arms, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said yesterday.

“The terrorists should know that if they drop their arms, then the operations in the country will end. But arms cannot be silenced as long as the terrorists do not drop their arms. They would target innocent people at every occasion [if the operations were to cease],” the prime minister said during an event in the Aegean province of Denizli.

“Despite evil attacks, we are determinedly fighting against the separatist terrorist organization and will continue fighting,” Erdoğan said in reference to two separate attacks on Sept. 16 that killed four soldiers in the eastern province of Hakkari, as well as eight police officers in the eastern province of Bingöl.

“Our fight against terrorism will doubtlessly continue. We are currently paying the price since there is no struggle without [a cost]. We want to stop the bloodshed. Those wanting the terrorist organization to lay down their arms should know that we, as the government, do not carry on our operations in the places where arms are laid down,” Erdoğan said.

“But soldiers and police of the state never lay down their arms, because arms are essential to them. With arms, they struggle to maintain order and get rid of terrorism,” he said.

In the last 10 days, 123 militants have been neutralized in Hakkari, while 373 militants were neutralized between February and August, the prime minister said.

“We will both prosper Turkey and fearlessly fight against the terrorist organization without stepping back,” Erdoğan said.

‘Mind your own business,’ Erdoğan tells TÜSİAD head

Meanwhile, the prime minister has called on Turkish Industry and Business Association (TÜSİAD) Chairwoman Ümit Boyner to “mind her own business” after she questioned the government’s silence over a deadly blast at a military depot and last year’s Uludere air strike.

Boyner had asked the government on Sept. 15 to give an ear to its citizens. “It is not acceptable to suppress the citizens’ demands. Citizens want to understand what happened in Uludere, the reasons for the blast [at the military depot] in Afyonkarahisar; the citizens want to know who is responsible for such events.”

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan responded Sept. 16, saying: “To be informed is our right and so on. ... Whose right is what, what’s the limit? Boyner will not decide those limits; let her mind her own business.”

Erdoğan made the comments in Sarajevo, where he was attending the 550th anniversary of the city’s foundation.

Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ joined the prime minister yesterday in directing harsh criticism toward the head of the country’s leading business club.

Civil society organizations mostly prefer delivering ideological speeches about the political agenda instead of speaking about developments in the economy, Bozdağ said.

However, the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) yesterday sided with TÜSİAD, with the party’s deputy chair, Erdoğan Toprak, calling Erdoğan’s response to Boyner “disgraceful and anti-democratic.”

Toprak, in a written statement, said everybody was curious about what actually happened in Afyonkarahisar, where a Sept. 5 blast killed 25 soldiers at an ammunition depot, and Uludere, a district in the southeastern province of Şırnak where 34 civilian Kurdish villagers who were smuggling oil from Iraq were mistakenly killed in a botched air raid by Turkish jets last December.

“Showing courage, Ms. Ümit Boyner has carried these questions – the answers to which are [desired] by our people – to the public’s agenda. The response that Mr. Prime Minister gave to this democratic courage and reaction is disgraceful and anti-democratic,” Toprak said.

“[His words are] a black stain in regards to our democracy history,” he said in an apparent reference to Erdoğan’s remark urging Boyner to “mind her own business.”