Turkish army says fight against terrorists continues
On March 21, jailed PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan called for a cease-fire and for thousands of his fighters to leave Turkey as part of a government-led peace process. Hürriyet photoThe Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) announced on April 22 that its fight against terrorism was continuing, about one month after the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) declared a unilateral cease-fire.
A list titled “News from the Turkish Armed Forces,” was posted on the official website of the TSK, with item one titled “The Turkish Armed Forces’ Fight with the Terrorist.”
“The Turkish Armed Forces’ fight with the terrorist, as stated in laws and in the government’s directive, is continuing,” the TSK wrote, without naming “the terrorist” and explicitly citing the name of the PKK.
On March 21 jailed PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan called for a cease-fire and for thousands of his fighters to leave Turkey as part of a government-led peace process aimed at ending the three-decade-old conflict between security forces and the PKK. Hours later, although welcoming the call, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan sounded a note of caution, saying Turkey wanted to see “to what extent it is implemented” by the militants.
Erdoğan said Turkish security forces would cease operations against the militants as soon as Öcalan’s call was implemented.
The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by a large majority of the international community including the European Union and the United States in addition to Turkey. Turkish civilian and military officials particularly refrain from using the word “cease-fire” in relation to the PKK, since they assume that its use would legitimize the PKK by accepting it as a counterpart.
CHP downplays TSK statement
When the leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, was asked about the TSK’s statement, he said, “In accordance with the law, the army will perform its duty. This is not a big deal.”
“The mandate already belongs to the government. The General Command of the Gendarmerie is adherent to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, it functions like the Police Department. In cases of illegal activity in rural areas, the General Command of the Gendarmerie performs its duty. In addition to that, there are the Land Forces, Naval Forces and Air Force, which are adherent to the General Staff. These perform their duties with the government’s instructions and according to the tasks that the law assigns to them. It is necessary to differentiate the duties that the gendarmerie and the army perform. It is necessary that we look at the event this way. If in a certain place, there really have been large-scale events, the governorate that is the representative of the state and the government invites the army to duty in order to alleviate the events. The army cannot proceed without an invitation. These are the well-known legal definitions,” Kılıçdaroğlu answered in Parliament, when reminded of the news reports regarding the authorization of the governorates on the PKK’s withdrawal.
In recent weeks, news reports have suggested that the governorates would be authorized to monitor TSK activity during the PKK’s planned withdrawal, since the militants are concerned about being attacked by the military forces on their way out.
As of April 18 Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ said an already-existing regulation arranging coordination of TSK’s duties and the governorates’ authorities was being detailed regarding the PKK’s planned withdrawal.
Bozdağ noted that all responsibility for a province rests in the hands of the governorates, according to the Law of Provincial Administration’s Article No. 11.
“There is already a regulation authorizing the governorate to ask the TSK for help, should it require in a case of ending a security or terror problem with its security forces. This regulation has been in effect since 1996. This is the kind of endeavor that is being done. The endeavor is only an elaboration of the regulation in the law, governing the procedures and principles of this.”
Meanwhile, when asked whether he would attend the reception to be held for the anniversary of April 23, 1923, the opening day of the Turkish Parliament during the War of Independence, now celebrated as National Sovereignty and Children’s Day, Kılıçdaroğlu confirmed his attendance unless an unexpected problem arose.