Words enough for safe PKK retreat, AKP says

Words enough for safe PKK retreat, AKP says

Words enough for safe PKK retreat, AKP says

An F-16 Turkish fighter jet is seen during take-off in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır in this file photo. DHA photo

There is no need for a legal amendment to secure the retreat of members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), according to a senior ruling party official, who said the prime minister’s word would suffice to provide a safe withdrawal to the fighters.

“Our prime minister has said, ‘[The PKK] will not face any difficulty if they decide to leave our soil.’ I am of the opinion that this is a sufficient commitment,” Mehmet Ali Şahin, deputy leader of the Justice and Development Party (AKP), told reporters yesterday.

Şahin’s comments came in response to concerns expressed by some top members of the PKK, which announced a cease-fire last week following calls from Abdullah Öcalan, the imprisoned leader of the organization.

Murat Karayılan, a senior PKK leader in Iraq, said his organization wanted to see a parliamentary body established, as well as the passage of a legal amendment to ensure the safe withdrawal of around 2,000 fighters. The PKK accepted Öcalan’s call to withdraw armed groups into northern Iraq as part of a peace process being conducted between him and the National Intelligence Organization (MİT). Although the process has continued positively so far, the PKK’s condition of a parliamentary body seems unlikely for the moment.

“My personal opinion is that there is no need for such a legal act. Legal amendments that brought about the Repentance Law are still valid. In the case of a need for some regulations with the aim of solving some problems stemming from the implementation, then there could some amendments on the law,” he said.

Şahin also echoed Parliamentary Speaker Cemil Çiçek’s concerns about the establishment
of a wise persons’ commission under Parliament’s roof, recalling that such commissions could only be established in line with the legislature’s internal regulations.

‘İmralı talks need to be legally protected’

Disagreeing with Şahin and other government officials, the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) believes that the process still needs to be protected legally due to the risk that a prosecutor could launch judicial action against those leading the talks.

“The current laws describe Öcalan as the leader of an illegal organization. What will we do if a prosecutor takes [these talks] to court? That’s why we want legal assurances. This is crucially important for the well-being of the process,” BDP co-chair Gültan Kışanak told private channel Nuçe TV late on March 24.

Kışanak said prosecutors launched judicial action against MİT chief Hakan Fidan in early 2012 because of his talks with senior PKK members in Oslo, stressing that there was no guarantee that similar action might not occur amid the talks between MİT and Öcalan, who is serving a life sentence on İmralı island on the Marmara Sea.

Fidan and other senior intelligence officers were only able to escape prosecution after a legal amendment granting them full-fledged immunity, as well as an amendment requiring the prime minister’s approval before any judicial action can be taken against them.