Reconciliation process to speed up after elections, deputy PM says
by Ayşe Şahin
ISTANBULMay 21, 2015 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Ayşe Şahin
May 21, 2015 12:00 am
In response to People's Democratic Party (HDP) Co-Chair Selahattin Demirtaş's recent remarks that the reconciliation process is currently on ice, Deputy Prime Minister Yalçın Akdoğan said on Thursday that the government is maintaining its efforts to push the process forward in what looks like a strong display of determination. Akdoğan also promised that the process will gain momentum following the June 7 general elections.
The reconciliation process, which was launched by the government to end the decades-long conflict between the state and the outlawed PKK, has recently been on a shaky ground due to resistance by the PKK to convene a congress to lay down its arms even after receiving an order by its imprisoned leader, Abdullah Öcalan. In an exclusive interview with A Haber, Akdoğan said despite Demirtaş's effort to hamper the process, claiming that he refused Öcalan's call, the government will continue its struggle to bring the peace efforts it is pursuing to end PKK militancy to a successful conclusion, and to resolve the Kurdish question.
"There has been [constant] tension during this process, which was initiated by the HDP," Akdoğan said, alluding to the Oct. 6-7 Kobani protests that erupted out of a demand for more support from the government for Kurds fighting to defend Kobani against the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). Demirtaş had called on supporters to take to the streets, inciting protests which ended in violence. Demirtaş is now touting the democratic pursuits of his party to expand its support.
"We will continue fighting against a mindset that threatens Kurds. These meetings are being held to ultimately persuade the PKK to abandon its arms, not for the HDP to pass the election threshold," Akdoğan said.
The PKK has intensified pressure on locals in eastern provinces to vote for the HDP, which is vying to pass the 10-percent election threshold to enter Parliament as a party. The pro-Kurdish party, which acts as a mediator in the reconciliation process with the government, is working to end the decades long conflict with the PKK and the state, and has been frequently accused by government officials of triggering violence by exerting its influence on PKK sympathizers.
"I have been criticizing the HDP for the sake of the reconciliation process. We witnessed how the HDP put the process in jeopardy during the Kobani protests. Then came the reactions against the Domestic Security Reform Bill. They are inclined to create tension," Akdoğan said.
The PKK, which was expected to announce its disarmament before the June 7 elections, as Öcalan ordered in his annual Nevruz message, have not abandoned arms, leading to a setback in the reconciliation process at a point when it was about to reach a conclusion. Far from laying down their arms, the PKK keeps igniting aggression in the eastern provinces, as Demirtaş's democratic rhetoric continues to appeal to voters in western Turkey as well.
"We are the side that struggles for the Kurds' rights, not them. What they all did was to create impediments [to the reconciliation process]. The government is to receive the credit for what has been done so far toward improving the standards of Kurds," Akdoğan said, adding that it is the PKK that persecutes the Kurds, not the government.
Turkey truly believed a new page had been turned in the name of democracy when Öcalan announced in his Nevruz message that the PKK will resume its cause through democratic means and should leave behind tactics such as resorting to arms to realize their goals. He called for a congress to convene to discuss laying down their arms before the elections, which did not and apparently will not happen in the near future, taking into consideration recent developments.
The General Staff announced on Wednesday that a soldier and a civilian has been kidnapped by the PKK in the eastern province of Muş. On Tuesday, militants torched vehicles to block the construction of a road in Bingöl. On Wednesday, AK Party headquarters in another eastern province, Mardin, was hit by a blast bomb. The PKK is thought to be behind the assault.