Turkish president urges solution to long detention terms

Turkish president urges solution to long detention terms

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Turkish president urges solution to long detention terms

A cameraman records as President Abdullah Gül (R) answers questions from Internet users on YouTube World View on Dec 1 at the presidential palace in Ankara. AA photo

President Abdullah Gül has issued a strong appeal for an end to lengthy detention periods and the prosecution of journalists, warning that Turkey’s reform process is being overshadowed.

“The lengthy detentions are becoming a punishment and I’m really disturbed. The trials must be accelerated. The crimes of those people, if any, must be determined as soon as possible, or else they must be set free,” Gül said in response to questions submitted by Internet users on YouTube World View.

Gül lent support to opening the archives of the 1938 Dersim killings, but cautioned that history should not be exploited for political ends.

Kurdish issue

Asked why “good things had not happened” on the Kurdish issue like he had promised, the president argued that the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) had sabotaged efforts for reconciliation with a series of deadly attacks on civilians and the security forces.

“Good things did happen and bothered the terrorist organization. Five or 10 years ago, you couldn’t talk about the Kurdish issue, or even use the word ‘Kurdish.’ This shows that the taboos have been broken. Better things should have happened, but frankly, the terrorist organization was disturbed by that prospect,” Gül said.

Gül said that democratic development in Turkey isolated the “terrorist organization” and that’s why it staged attacks against civilians in Kızılay, Taksim and Bingol. In comments on the turmoil in Syria, Gül said “a civil war is the last thing we want to see happen. We don’t want to see a civil war in any country, especially if it’s based on ethnic and religious differences.”

EU accession

The president said Turkey must persist in its efforts to join the European Union. “We need to work to get in,” he said, stating that the economic crisis in Europe should not be a deterrent. “If Turkey is at a better place today as compared to many EU member countries, it is because we followed the EU’s Maastricht criteria. The negotiation process has strengthened very much both Turkey’s economy and democracy.”
Gül said violence against women was “the weakest and most shameful behavior of men,” saying that the rising number of cases was the result of women now speaking out. “The wall of fear has been overcome and the struggle [against domestic violence] will continue.”

Asked about how becoming president has changed his life, Gül complained that he sometimes felt alone and isolated. He declined to say whether he considered returning to politics after his term expires.