Deputy PM Kurtulmuş: Success of reconciliation process equal to Turkey's success
by Anadolu Agency
ANKARAApr 15, 2015 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Anadolu Agency
Apr 15, 2015 12:00 am
Turkey's reconciliation process will continue and has the support of the public, Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş has said.
Kurtulmuş made the remarks in an exclusive interview with the Anadolu Agency's Editors' Desk at its headquarters in Ankara on Wednesday, days after four Turkish troops were wounded in Turkey's eastern Ağrı province in a PKK terrorist attack.
Kurtulmuş said: "The success of the reconciliation process will be Turkey's success. The supporters of the reconciliation process are people.
"Turkey has lost $1.2 billion through 30 years of terror."
Kurtulmuş said the success of the process would be a great example to other countries including Ukraine and Yemen.
The Turkish government launched the "reconciliation process" initiative with the aim of bringing an end to the decades-long conflict with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or the PKK, which has so far claimed the lives of more than 40,000 people.
'Unity and brotherhood'
Turkish authorities have repeatedly said the process was being carried out with the full support of the Turkish public and that the government's main goal was to safeguard Turkey's national unity, brotherhood of its citizens, and comfort and peace in the homeland.
Kurtulmuş said there were some factions who wanted to axe the process and there could be some "provocations" before Turkey's general elections on June 7, but he added "A U-turn can never be accepted."
Government officials say Saturday's attack was a provocation instigated by PKK members.
Selahattin Demirtaş, the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party co-chair, has claimed the incident was not spontaneous but a pre-planned and rehearsed fake set-up which was carried out to discredit his party.
Regarding the chances of the HDP passing the 10 percent election threshold, Kurtulmuş said: "It would not be turmoil for the HDP not to pass the election threshold. It is not a factor that would damage the reconciliation process.
Political parties need to pass the 10 percent election threshold to enter parliament in the upcoming parliamentary elections.
Pope's remarks on 1915 events
Regarding Pope Francis's statement calling the 1915 incidents involving Armenians "genocide," Kurtulmuş said: "We invite everyone including the Pope to be clear and sincere."
"His words are inappropriate and constitute political manipulation," he added.
Kurtulmuş said the pontiff should first use its religious identity to ensure peace.
He also said that historical documents about the events were open to all for analysis. "Whoever wants to see the facts can come to Turkey and consult its archives," he added.
Pope Francis said on Sunday that "the first 'genocide' of the 20th century struck Armenians," a statement which triggered criticism from Turkey and led to Ankara recalling its ambassador in the Vatican and also summoning Vatican's envoy in the Turkish capital.
The 1915 events took place during World War I when a portion of the Armenian population living in the Ottoman Empire sided with the invading Russians and revolted against the empire.
The Ottoman Empire relocated Armenians in eastern Anatolia following the revolts and there were Armenian casualties during the relocation process.
Armenia has demanded an apology and compensation, while Turkey has officially refuted Armenian allegations over the incidents saying that, although Armenians died during the relocations, many Turks also lost their lives in attacks carried out by Armenian gangs in Anatolia.
Syrian refugees in Turkey
"Around 2 million people mostly Syrians, including a number of Iraqis, were given biometric IDs," said Kurtulmuş.
The Syrian conflict, entering its fifth year, has created an acute refugee crisis, with as many as 3.8 million Syrian refugees currently registered in neighboring Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq.
"Nearly 300,000 Syrians are living in the refugee camps and 1.7 million people are living in cities," Kurtulmuş added.
"We thought that the refugees would be temporary, but now it seems that even if the war comes to an end, this will continue for a long time. We estimate that a substantial part of these people will stay in Turkey."
Kurtulmuş said Turkey spent $5.3 billion on Syrian refugees since 2011.