Turkish government fiercely rules out third-party involvement in peace process
AA PhotoThe Turkish government has categorically closed the door on the involvement of any third party in the peace process, which it labels as its brainchild.
“This process is a local process,” Deputy Prime Minister Yalçın Akdoğan said yesterday, speaking of the process aimed at ending the three-decade-long conflict between the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and Turkish security forces.
“It is a process which Turkey implemented with its own will. We don’t believe that inclusion of a different country, mechanism, system, organization or structure would be right. Turkey is advancing this process with its own opportunities and capabilities,” Akdoğan said, while responding to various questions in a meeting with the state-run Anadolu Agency’s “Editor Desk.”
Akdoğan’s strongly worded remarks were an apparent response to the PKK’s demand for an international mediator, possibly the United States, to help get peace talks with Turkey back on track and avert an escalation of their insurgency.
“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. It could also be an international delegation. We need a go-between, we need observers. We would also accept the Americans. From our view, it is moving in this direction,” Cemil Bayık, a founding member and leading figure of the PKK, told Austrian newspaper Der Standard in early November.
The U.S., like its NATO ally Turkey and the European Union, classifies the PKK as a terrorist organization.
Furthermore, Akdoğan also argued that the involvement of a third country would complicate the process. As an example of such a complication, he cited the dialogue held between state officials and the PKK abroad between 2009 and 2011 in a series of meetings publicly known as the “Oslo talks.” The talks collapsed after a PKK attack killed 13 soldiers near Diyarbakır in July 2011.
Gov’t, HDP carefully reopen dialogue channels
Akdoğan’s remarks on the peace process were followed by a make-or-break meeting with a delegation from the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) later in the same day, with both sides emerging to release carefully constructed announcements to help the dialogue channels remain open on the process.
While describing the climate concerning the peace process as “moderate,” Akdoğan underlined the need for patience, determination and sincerity in order to find a resolution to the chronic problem.
Akdoğan made the remarks before holding the meeting with the HDP’s parliamentary delegation.
Emphasizing that dialogue is the basis of the peace and resolution process, Akdoğan said, “The meeting with the HDP is substantial.”
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, HDP deputy parliamentary group chair İdris Baluken described the meeting as “positive.” Baluken said they discussed ways of keeping dialogue channels open, while noting that such meetings would be held later this week in order to discuss practical stapes to be taken in the upcoming phase of the process.
“We have arrived at a consensus to keep dialogue channels open. Important assessments have also been made about moving on in a more constructive way, in regards to the language being used and policies that are being spoken of, for the acceleration of the negotiation process,” Baluken said.
As he noted, they also discussed some “practical steps,” including the HDP parliamentary delegation’s visit to the jailed leader of the PKK, Abdullah Öcalan. Baluken sounded confident that the visit would take place shortly, although an exact date is yet to be set.
Öcalan, serving a life sentence on İmralı Island in the Sea of Marmara, has been in dialogue with state officials and the HDP and its predecessor, the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), since at least late 2012 and is playing a central role in the process. However, due to the recent tension, no parliamentary delegation has been able to visit Öcalan since Oct. 22.
At the meeting with Akdoğan, Baluken was accompanied by the HDP’s other deputy parliamentary chair, Pervin Buldan, and HDP Istanbul deputy Sırrı Süreyya Önder. All three lawmakers are frequent visitors to Öcalan as part of the process.
The government and the HDP also exchanged views on the inclusion of a monitoring team within the process, Baluken acknowledged. Noting that the government had no objection on that particular issue, Baluken highlighted that the team could be composed of prominent opinion leaders from Turkey.
The word ‘Kurdistan’
On the same day, a presentation in Parliament by Interior Minister Efkan Ala on his ministry’s budget as part of ongoing deliberations on the 2015 Central Governance Budget Law at Parliament’s Planning and Budget Commission offered an opportunity for opposition lawmakers to attack the government’s policy on the Kurdish issue.
Mehmet Günal of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) argued that a chapter in the presentation which was titled as “struggle with terrorism,” should actually be changed to “negotiation with terrorism.”
Meanwhile, a heated exchange of words took place between Günay and the HDP’s Hasip Kaplan over use of the word “Kurdistan.”
“In the 21st century, denying Kurd and Kurdistan is burying your head in the sand,” Kaplan said.
When Günal taunted deputies from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) for letting Kaplan use the Word “Kurdistan,” the tension escalated, prompting the president of the commission to give a break to the session.