Turkey's ruling party offers assembly panel for Kurdish bid

Turkey's ruling party offers assembly panel for Kurdish bid

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Turkeys ruling party offers assembly panel for Kurdish bid

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is seen with citizens during an Ankara meeting on disabled labor yesterday. DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZ

Turkey’s government responded favorably yesterday to requests to submit the country’s fledgling peace process to greater parliamentary oversight, submitting a motion to establish a legislative panel. 

But it is not clear whether the formula will satisfy the main opposition party, which resolutely demands Parliament lead the process, or the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), which both maintain that the planned retreat of the group’s militants is not possible without legal guarantees. BDP deputy parliamentary group chair İdris Baluken expressed caution on the motion yesterday. Baluken said the content of the proposal seemed problematic and that they would prefer that a commission be formed through the adoption of a law.

Both the BDP and the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) have in the past introduced proposals to form “a truth and reconciliation commission.” 

Although not having the same characteristic, the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) proposal and the past proposals by the BDP and the CHP are likely to be assessed together by the Parliamentary Speaker’s Office.

Still, a leading deputy of the BDP already welcomed the initiative. “The establishment of the commission is important. It will make a contribution to this process. As the BDP, we will take part in it,” BDP Diyarbakır deputy Altan Tan said.

Tan was among a three-member parliamentary delegation who visited imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan, who is serving a life-sentence on İmralı island, on Feb. 23 as part of the process. 

BDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş, BDP Iğdır deputy Pervin Buldan and BDP Istanbul deputy Sırrı Süreyya Önder traveled to İmralı again yesterday for the fourth such parliamentary delegation. The same delegation visited Öcalan on March 18, days before a historical Nevruz holiday celebration on March 21 when a mass rally was held in Diyarbakır and where Buldan and Önder read out a message from Öcalan that ordered PKK fighters to cease their operations and withdraw from Turkish soil as a step to ending the conflict that has killed 40,000 people, caused great hardship and battered its economy.

In a written statement released before the return of the delegation from İmralı, the BDP said the delegation would not make any statement upon their return.

“If needed, the public will later be informed,” the BDP said.

Reference to the founding Parliament

While announcing his party’s decision to introduce a proposal to the Parliamentary Speaker’s Office to launch a parliamentary investigation concerning the peace process, the AKP’s deputy parliamentary group chair, Nurettin Canikli, said the proposal involved evaluating assessments, criticisms and contributions concerning the process. 

“The state of the Republic of Turkey is in a position to create a free and equal living zone by assuring people’s honor, plurality, open-mindedness and tolerance on a democratic basis. The main target of the process which is being conducted with this aim and which is called the ‘resolution process’ is the ideal of a great Turkey which was envisaged when the Parliament, the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, was opened on April 23, 1920,” the proposal said. 

According to the procedure, if the proposal is accepted, a parliamentary investigation commission will be formed. The temporary commission will function for a period of four months, with the four political parties present in Parliament represented in the commission according to the proportionate amount of seats they hold in the legislature.

Opposition involvement?

Canikli, however, refused to answer questions as to whether the AKP and the BDP would split the seats between them if the other two parties, the CHP and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), refused to name MPs the panel.

The CHP’s deputy parliamentary group chair, Emine Ülker Tarhan, said they would assess the issue at the party’s relevant bodies, but the MHP is not expected to assign any deputies to the commission.
Mahir Ünal, another deputy parliamentary group chair of the AKP, said they had not contacted the opposition parties before introducing the proposal. Ünal, however, did not exclude the possibility of meeting with opposition parties in the coming days, while noting that the name of the commission would be the “Resolution Process Assessment Commission.”

Meanwhile, sources said Deputy Prime Minister Beşir Atalay earlier this week asked for an appointment with CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu in order to inform him about the state of affairs surrounding the process. The CHP is expected to respond positively to the request, however, at a deputy leader level. Either Deputy Chair Faruk Loğoğlu or Deputy Chair Gürsel Tekin may meet with Atalay, the sources said.