Turkish President Erdoğan mum on gov't criticism, PKK leader's call
President Erdoğan saluted his supporters in Denizli on March 21 with the Rabia gesture created by the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. AA photoPresident Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has avoided thorny issues related to Turkey's Kurdish peace bid during his speech in a western city, confined himself to congratulating Nevruz with broad remarks.
"Let Nevruz mark the time that mothers stop shedding tears. Let Nevruz be the milestone for peace and solidarity," Erdoğan said on March 21 while addressing to a crowd during an inauguration ceremony in Denizli.
In this predominantly conservative Turkish province, Erdoğan responded neither to the latest call of the jailed leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) nor the fresh statement of the Turkish government spokesperson that baffled many observers.
Hours before Erdoğan, PKK's jailed leader Abdullah Öcalan called on the group to convene an extraordinary congress to "end the 40-year-long arms struggle" against Turkey.
While hailing Öcalan's call, Deputy Prime Minister and government spokesperson Bülent Arınç told reporters that Erdoğan's latest intervention into the Kurdish peace process was not "appropriate."
After voicing his hope for peaceful spring festitivies to mark Nevruz "with love and excitement but not fireworks, Molotov cocktails and slingshots," Turkish President reassured the locals for the resolution of the Kurdish peace process.
"God willing, we will build a much stronger Turkey together. Don't worry about it. You know what you should do. I don't have to tell you about it," he said, asking the people to vote in the upcoming general elections.
Stressing that 400 seats in the parliament are required to change the Constitution without naming a specific party, Erdoğan also repeated that Turkey needs an "idiosyncratic presidential system" in which he promised to not become "a one-man government."
Meanwhile, police detained 11 activists in Denizli hours before Erdoğan's speech on March 21. According to Doğan News Agency, three of the activists from the Turkish Youth Union (TGB) were wearing replica military costumes resembling the Ottoman soldiers during the Gallipoli Campaign in 1915.
Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, on the other hand, attended a spring festival organized by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Istanbul on March 21.
"On this Nevruz day, we are a society consisting of a dense forest, but not of lonely trees," Davutoğlu said, noting that "the goal of the solution process is to have peace and harmony in the homeland."
Although he did not directly refer to Öcalan, Turkish PM added that the peace process arrived in "an important phase."
"The big picture tells us that Turks and Kurds are brothers and sisters and will remain so ... Nobody should make the process serve as a tool in daily politics," Davutoğlu said.