US insists on political solution to Kurdish question
ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
EU Minister Egemen Bağış meets with Ricciardone, the U.S. ambassador to Turkey, in Ankara. Ricciardone said the US supports political solution to Kurdish problem.A political solution to the Kurdish question is the “responsible and promising way” and could drain the terrorist swamp, the U.S. ambassador has said, amid escalated terror acts which include the abduction of a Turkish lawmaker.
“We support the government of the Republic of Turkey, we support the political parties, all of them, in government or in opposition, in their calls for a political solution to this [problem] within Turkish democracy. We think that’s the responsible and promising way ahead,” Francis Ricciardone, the U.S. ambassador to Turkey, told Ankara newspaper bureau chiefs yesterday.
Ricciardone’s words coincided with a domestic political row between the ruling and opposition parties on convening Parliament for an extraordinary session to discuss the kidnapping of Hüseyin Aygün, the Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) Tunceli deputy, by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
“It’s up to the parties in conflict to decide how they are going to get to political resolution of this,” he said. “It’s often hard to have negotiations; just as a political way forward comes into sight someone conducts a terrorist attack, someone conducts a kidnapping.”
Continuing negotiations amid ongoing terror acts or kidnappings was difficult, the ambassador said.
“But we think there needs to be a political solution, not only for this conflict, but a political solution for all Turks, including Kurdish Turks, [to feel like] first class citizens,” adding that this would stop terrorists’ plans to exploit injustice and grievances.
Kidnapping Aygün is a ‘stupid move’
Strongly condemning the abduction of Aygün, the ambassador said he had privately phoned CHP chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu and sent a written message to the parliamentary speaker to express the solidarity of the U.S. government and its people with Turkey.
“Apart from its criminality and unacceptability, it seems so stupid and contrary to advancing any interest of the people of Turkey, Kurdish people or other people of Turkey. I do not understand how it advances anyone’s interest in freedom and justice for all in Turkey,” he said.
Barzani ‘should do more’
When asked about Turkey’s complaints about the reluctance of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq to deal with the PKK elements in the region, Ricciardone said the U.S. shared the Turkish government’s views that the level of cooperation between Ankara and Arbil was far from satisfying.
“We urge him [Masoud Barzani] and other leaders of the KRG to do everything they can to prevent their territory from being used as a safe haven for terrorists. We are not satisfied and we know the Turkish government is not satisfied.”
Cobras delayed because of Turkey
Speaking about Turkish demands for some high-tech military equipment from the U.S., like Cobra helicopters and armed reapers, Ricciardone said the delivery of three Cobra choppers had been delayed because of Turkey’s additional technical and price requirements. “Once we can satisfy the concerns of the Turkish side I believe these helicopters could be delivered quickly. They could have been here by now,” he said. However, the ambassador drew a rather pessimistic picture regarding the transfer of reapers as there are important congressional problems yet to be resolved.
Buffer zone easy to say, hard to realize
The U.S. envoy spoke about the meeting between the two countries’ foreign ministers in Istanbul on Saturday regarding developments in Syria and said the parties had begun working on potential contingency plans to meet fleeing Syrians inside Syria. “We are not limited with humanitarian relief.” The two sides’ military officers have been discussing some contingency plans for months which would also include buffer zone as well, he said.
“These issues [establishment of a buffer zone] are easy to talk [about] conceptually but very difficult to realize practically,” he said, adding that the fact that the two sides were discussing such plans should not be considered a commitment.
Sectarian instincts dangerous
Speaking about potential plans that envisage the division of Syria or Iraq on the basis of sects, the ambassador said: “The U.S. and Turkey have the very same view that sectarian instinct and tension must not be exacerbated and must not be exploited. This is absolutely satanic, devilish, a dangerous path to open.”
“We understand the government of Turkey condemns any resort to sectarianism. Division of Iraq or division of Syria, divisions of people on the basis of their faith is something Turkey opposes and we oppose.”