Turkish PM: Gov’t taking risks to solve Kurdish issue
ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
‘How did we break from the status quo? We broke from it by sending our adviser to the island, by sending [him] to Oslo,’ Erdoğan says in a televised interview. DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZThe Turkish government is taking risks to attempt to solve the country’s long-standing Kurdish problem, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said yesterday during a televised interview with the private NTV news channel.
“Our intelligence service can take this kind of step when it needs to be taken,” Erdoğan said.
Amid ongoing clashes between the Turkish security forces and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Erdoğan also said the jailed PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan could participate in a new negotiation process to end the bloody battle.
“Meetings concerning İmralı can take place again,” he said, referring to the Marmara island on which Öcalan is incarcerated. “We are ready to do whatever is necessary to [find] a solution,” Erdoğan said Sept. 26, but added that the PKK must completely disarm itself rather than just call a cease-fire. “If talks enable us to resolve something, let’s do it.”
Erdoğan also said a rumor campaign suggesting that Öcalan had either died or had been killed was proven to be untrue after the PKK leader’s brother, Mehmet Öcalan, went to İmralı.
If the PKK militants lay their arms down, then the operations by the Turkish military will cease, Erdoğan said even as fresh fighting in the east claimed many lives. At least two soldiers and 13 PKK militants died in fighting in the eastern province of Hakkari.
Erdoğan, however, said the talks actually collapsed after the content of the Oslo talks was leaked on the Internet in September 2011.
Erdoğan was referring to talks between the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) chief Hakan Fidan and Öcalan, who is jailed in a prison on İmralı Island in the Marmara Sea. At the time, Fidan had been deputy undersecretary at the Prime Ministry. He was also referring to talks among MİT officials, including Fidan, who later became the chief of the agency, and representatives of the outlawed PKK that were held abroad between 2009 and 2011 in a series of meetings publicly known as the “Oslo talks.” The talks were known to have collapsed after a PKK attack killed 13 soldiers near Silvan, Diyarbakır, in July 2011.
“We are ready to do whatever is necessary to [find] a solution,” Erdoğan said, but added that the militants who have been fighting the Turkish state since 1984 must lay down their weapons entirely, rather than merely suspending fighting, which is called “silencing the weapons.”
“If talks enable us to resolve something, let’s do it,” he said, suggesting that talks could again be held in Oslo.
“If the separatist terror organization [PKK] is still holding their arms, then this is a provocative action. If the terror organization leaves its arms, then we will minimize the [military] operations,” he said.
“If our friends have gone to İmralı and Oslo for a solution, these are the most decisive steps that are being taken for a solution,” he added.