Turkish gov’t dealing with Kurdish peace process: PM

Turkish gov’t dealing with Kurdish peace process: PM

Turkish gov’t dealing with Kurdish peace process: PM

Young people dance during Nevruz celebrations in Diyarbakır. DAILY NEWS photo / Selahattin SÖNMEZ

The addressee of the process to find a peaceful solution to the Kurdish problem is the Turkish government, the prime minister told journalists in the Netherlands yesterday while dismissing Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) and outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) calls to discuss the matter in Parliament.

An end to armed struggle call by PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan in a letter read earlier in the day during Nevruz celebrations in Diyarbakır is positive, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said later during a joint press meeting with his Dutch counterpart, Mark Rutte.

 “I find the call, the invitation, a positive development. But the essential thing is [what’s put into] practice,” Erdoğan said.

“We would like to see the reflections of Öcalan’s remarks in the shortest time possible,” he said.
Still, Erdoğan criticized the absence of a Turkish flag at the celebrations in Diyarbakır. “I would have liked to see our flag there,” he said. “I believe that this is not only my wish but that of the nation. This was a serious shortcoming.”

During a session with journalists, Erdoğan also commented on the PKK’s possible withdrawal beyond Turkey’s borders.

“During earlier PKK withdrawals some executions took place,” he said. “We will not be the promoter of such executions. We will not give a chance [for this].”

If a solution is reached, some have suggested sending the PKK’s senior cadres to Scandinavian countries. Did you have such discussions during your contacts in Denmark?

No such a thing was discussed during my contacts in Denmark.

The BDP and Kurdish sources are highlighting [the role of] Parliament. What do they mean?

There is nothing that Parliament will do for the moment. Parliament has no responsibilities regarding the withdrawal. There is a government in Turkey. It is the addressee. The government will do what it should do. We are sensitive about continuing the process within a legal frame. A show in Habur put an end to the previous process. [In 2009, a process launched by the government to accept eight PKK members and 28 Kurdish refugees from northern Iraq was disrupted by a festive welcome at the border gate in Habur. The incident was perceived as “a PKK show of force” by the government and sparked public outcry throughout the rest of Turkey].

We will not let a new [Habur] occur. The process today is a very different one. In the past, some executions occurred during a PKK withdrawal. As the government, we think differently this time.

Executions like what?

A: I mean the unsolved murders and things done under cover of the JİTEM [the alleged Gendarmerie Intelligence Anti-Terrorism Unit]. I mean some unwanted incidents during the previous withdrawal period. We will not be the promoter of such executions. We will not give this a chance. We want [the process] to be shaped in a way that will contribute to peace in the country.

During the withdrawal, will you be directing [militants] to any specific country – Iraq or Syria for example?

This is something that they will decide on.

Will you be establishing a security corridor to prevent any sabotage during the withdrawal?

Sabotage might come from inside also. This may come from another country.

They want to upgrade the PKK to a level of addressee by also including Parliament [in the process], and so win legitimacy. They want to legitimize the organization. But this won’t happen.

There is public confusion. What do you mean by “laying down arms?”

For those who are not involved in any action, it does not matter if they are inside or outside Turkey since they have not committed a crime by only going to the mountain. They can enter Turkey from any border gate. They might testify to a prosecutor in Turkey. ... We want those who have not been involved in any crime to rejoin their families. We want no armed action inside Turkey.

Some expect the process to be finalized by the end of 2013. Is this the target?

This is our target. Then 2014 would become a healthy election year. The BDP may also benefit from this.

The talks between the Colombian government and the FARC [Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia] is set to be finalized in 2013.

[The Turkish process] has nothing to do with the Colombian process. I have researched the IRA [in Ireland], ETA [in the Basque Country], Sri Lanka and Colombia. None of them is in harmony with ours.

Will there be a new mission to İmralı island, where Öcalan is kept?

If this is required. If they ask for it, we will evaluate the matter.

The solution process looks [to be only] a national one. Western countries are not reacting.

Who says they are not reacting? They do, but they do not lend support. They are driving Iraq toward Iran. They control the energy resources there. They want the continuation of a guided power. They do many things both in northern and southern [Iraq]. Look what [Shiite figure Muqtada] al-Sadr recently said about [Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri] al-Maliki. Sharp as a needle. Al-Maliki has postponed local election for six months. This is an autocratic structure.

They are taking advantage of the absence of President Jalal Talabani.

Have you received any recent information about the [March 19] attacks on the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Justice Ministry?

The technical side of the attack is clear. Our headquarters was hit by a LAW gun.

Is it claimed that the gun came from Syria?

I have not received such information. It hit the beam of my working office. It broke some windows of the meeting room.