Turkish government should take fresh steps for PKK withdrawal, BDP says
ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Turkish Air Forces soldiers hold an exercise in this file photo. BDP co-chair Demirtaş says the process to initiate the withdrawals had not been completed yet. About Öcalan’s Nevruz call, Demirtaş said, ‘He only said, ‘We reached the withdrawal phase.’ He did not say, ‘The withdrawals shall begin.’’Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş said the scheduling of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party’s (PKK) retreat was not possible before the government took new steps, in contrast to government sources.
Speaking to a group of journalists at his parliamentary office on March 26, Demirtaş said the PKK would not need intermediate stations during its withdrawal process and would easily reach the Kandil Mountains, where PKK fighters are based, after arriving at the Botan borders.
Demirtaş said the legal conditions of return should be formed, and the government’s de facto permission would not be sufficient for withdrawals. “Current laws are not sufficient. In Turkey, the conditions are not yet suitable for a return,” Demirtaş said.
PKK ‘proposed’ making law for withdrawal
“This proposal of making a law does not belong to the BDP. It was proposed by [jailed PKK leader Abdullah] Öcalan and the PKK. It was proposed by those who will withdraw. It is not imposed or stipulated by the BDP. Öcalan and the PKK both said, ‘Withdrawal is not possible without a guarantee.’ They define it as a legal guarantee. A commission comprised of Parliament members and a wise-men commission could be formed. The decision to form this commission would mean deciding on peace,” Demirtaş said.
Demirtaş also said a formula for a legal regulation was being looked for. “This was spoken about at İmralı [the island prison where Öcalan is held]. The government is also aware of the fact that this issue would not progress without legal orders, so it is in search of a formula. And we do not want to importune the government,” Demirtaş said.
Demirtaş said they had on March 8 sent a message to Republican People’s Party (CHP) chair Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, saying “It is normally the duty of the government; but if it does not, we are ready to inform you as the BDP.” Demirtaş added that an answer had not come yet. “We are open and sincere on this issue. We are ready to meet you, inform you and listen to your proposals. But no answer has come, unfortunately.”
Regarding Murat Karayılan’s statements that mid-level administrators of the PKK demanded a direct contact, Demirtaş said, “It is necessary to take his words seriously. He says, ‘As senior administrators, we are ready; but we might have some difficulties in persuading the mid-level. So, our leadership must directly address them.’ From these words, I inferred that [Öcalan] must directly address [them] with a speech. They want to hear his voice. The state could create contact between Kandil and İmralı.”
Demirtaş said the process to initiate the withdrawals had not been completed yet, adding that Öcalan should make a withdrawal call to the PKK.
Upon the question of whether Öcalan’s Nevruz call covered withdrawals, Demirtaş said, “He only said, ‘We reached the withdrawal phase.’ He did not say, ‘The withdrawals shall begin.’”
Demirtaş said the withdrawals could start when Öcalan and the government reach a consensus under the supervision of the Parliamentary Commission and Wise-Men Commission. “After the first phase is completed, a second phrase and a third phase of normalization would follow. We don’t know when the first phase could be completed. Öcalan says, ‘If the government does its share, the PKK must retreat as soon as possible. But if the government does not fulfill its duty, I cannot order the PKK to retreat.’ They are the armed ones, and they are the ones to make the final decision. If they agree on a subject, and if a retreat could be started without a law, we will not object to that. We will continue supporting the process,” Demirtaş said.
When asked whether the withdrawal process could be completed by November, Demirtaş said the prime minister or the justice minister cannot determine the date, only the Kurdish Communities Union (KCK) could schedule it.
Demirtaş also said the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) could also support the process, adding that he did not think the view suggesting that everyone should return to their country was right. According to Demirtaş, it could be implemented in a medium or a long-term period.