Turkey’s peace process will effectively begin after armed militants from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leave Turkey, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said in the wake of the second parliamentarian visit to PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan.
“This process will de facto begin after terrorists go to a second country from the border,” Erdoğan said.
“Then there’s Makhmour Camp, this issue should be resolved after discussions with the United Nations because that camp is effectively an incubation center [for the PKK]. And there’s Kandil Mountain [where the PKK has its main bases] on the other side. This is an issue we have to resolve with the northern Iraqi administration. But all of those are the steps that will be taken after [the PKK militants] in Turkey leave our country,” Erdoğan said.
Erdoğan’s remarks, which were originally delivered to journalists on board a plane en route from Dubai to Ankara late Feb. 24, were reported a day after by Anatolia news agency in Q&A format.
The premier reiterated assurances that military operations would not be conducted against PKK militants during their withdrawal from Turkish soil. “The previous mistakes will not be made. We will take necessary precautions,” Erdoğan said, tacitly referring to the military operations in 1999 that killed over 500 PKK militants as they were withdrawing from Turkey after a call from Öcalan following his capture.
Though launching the new process means taking risks, Erdoğan said they were determined to maintain the momentum. “Unless we take that risk, we cannot come to a conclusion. If other active layers of society share this risk with us – the media is very important here – our progress will speed up.”
Suggesting that the recent peace process should be defined as the “resolution process” instead of the “İmralı process” – in a reference to İmralı island, where Öcalan is serving a life sentence – Erdoğan said Kurds living in both eastern and western Turkey supported the process.
Meanwhile, the Peace and Democracy Party’s (BDP) Parliamentary Group Administrative Board met yesterday at the party headquarters for a briefing by BDP Deputy Parliamentary Group Chair Pervin Buldan, Istanbul deputy Sırrı Süreyya Önder and Diyarbakır deputy Altan Tan about their Feb. 23 trip to see Öcalan.
The three traveled to İmralı after the government permitted their visit as part of the resolution process which involves government officials’ recently launched talks with Öcalan to convince the PKK members to disarm. The Feb. 23 visit was the second after BDP MP Ayla Akat Ata and independent deputy Ahmet Türk visited the PKK leader on Jan. 3.
BDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş is expected to reveal Öcalan’s messages to the public today during his speech at the BDP’s parliamentary group meeting, while Erdoğan is also expected to make his first comments on the content of the Feb. 23 meeting.
At the same time, the National Security Council (MGK), which brings together the country’s top civilian and military leaders, will hold a regular bimonthly meeting during which the ongoing “peace process” is likely to be discussed at length.
CHP rebuffs Öcalan’s expression of ‘captives’
Separately, main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Deputy Chair Faruk Loğoğlu rebuffed yesterday Öcalan’s decision to describe the detained suspects in the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) case as “captives.”
“The state has captives in its hands. So does the PKK. The PKK has to treat its captives very well. I hope they will rejoin their families in the shortest time,” Öcalan said in a letter read out by Buldan following their Feb. 23 visit.
“Turkey has no captives in its hands. There are people who committed crimes, who are involved in terror crimes or armed terror activities,” Loğoğlu said during a press conference in Parliament.
The KCK is the alleged urban wing of the PKK.