Turkish PM Erdoğan hopes to revive stalled peace process with Diyarbakır visit

Turkish PM Erdoğan hopes to revive stalled peace process with Diyarbakır visit

Turkish PM Erdoğan hopes to revive stalled peace process with Diyarbakır visit

KRG leader Masoud Barzani will be an invitee of government, says official. DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZ

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is hoping to use his joint visit with prominent Iraqi Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani to the southeastern province of Diyarbakır as a strong means to revive the currently stalled peace process.

Reviving the process through such a bold move seems an electorally safer move when compared to taking otherwise assertive steps that would be satisfactory for both imprisoned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdulalh Öcalan and the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP). Such steps that would be welcome by Öcalan and the BDP are likely to be used by the other opposition parties to attack the ruling party ahead of local elections scheduled for March 2014.

Still, a fresh statement by Barzani, the president of the Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), which was delivered just ahead of his Diyarbakır visit may frustrate those plans.

Barzani accused the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) in Syria of “autocracy,” rejecting its unilateral declaration of self-governance in Syria’s Kurdish northeast. The BDP shares similar grassroots with the PKK, and the BDP and the KRG are divided on Syrian Kurds.

As a matter of fact, the BDP’s Diyarbakır branch already announced on Nov. 15 in a brief statement that a press statement would be made in front of the branch building on Nov. 16 “in order to protest the visits which will be paid to Amed.” Amed is the Kurdish name for Diyarbakır.

Earlier, speaking at a press conference held in Brussels on Nov. 15, BDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş warned that the visit which is taking place at a critical time should not be sacrificed to simple shows or political calculations.

“Mr. Prime Minister can turn this into an opportunity to convert the process into negotiation,” Demirtaş was quoted as saying by Anadolu Agency, in an apparent reference to Öcalan, who recently put forward certain demands in order to be able to convert the ongoing peace process with Ankara from a period based on “dialogue” to one of “negotiations” amid questions surrounding the future of the process.

The resolution process, also dubbed the peace process, refers to an ongoing government-led initiative aimed at ending the long-running Kurdish issue by ending the three-decade-old conflict between security forces and the PKK.

‘A process of our own’

Responding to questions on the issue during a visit to the eastern Anatolian province of Erzincan, President Abdullah Gül said such visits would be in favor of both Turkey and neighboring peoples in the region to whom Turkey has fraternal ties.

The resolution process is entirely “a national issue” for Turkey, Gül said, while emphasizing the importance of being able to resolve its own problems for a country.

“When you have others meddling in your own problems, this is not something which would be done by big powers. That’s why our process is precious. It is a process which was begun entirely on our own will and intention. Thus, any foreign observer or any foreign relationship is out of question,” he said.

In Ankara, Energy Minister Taner Yıldız described the visit as “expanding borders of our fraternity.”
“If Barzani has a value in the eyes of our citizens there, then this value will make a contribution,” Yıldız told at a meeting with the Diplomacy Correspondents’ Association (DMD) when asked whether Barzani’s visit would make a contribution to the peace process.

A senior executive of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), meanwhile, suggested that Arbil, with whom Ankara has been improving bilateral relations, is to become the new Dubai of the region.

“Our being on good terms with Barzani, with our Kurdish siblings in northern Iraq and improving good commercial and neighborhood relations are by no means a factor against Iraq’s central government,” AKP Deputy Chair Hüseyin Çelik said in an interview with Anadolu, particularly underlining commercial relations with Iraqi Kurdistan in a bid to elaborate on the appropriateness of hosting Barzani in Diyarbakır.

Çelik, also the spokesperson for the ruling party, said Barzani was set to arrive in Diyarbakır as the invitee of the government, but not as the invitee of the AKP – as was the case in September 2012, when Barzani arrived in Ankara in order to attend a big congress of the ruling party.

“This time, we are not inviting Mr. Barzani as the AK Party [AKP]. I can’t understand why colleagues from the BDP have been [suspicious],” Çelik said.