Deputy Prime Minister Cevdet Yılmaz said the HDP could not draw a clear line with the PKK and failed to satisfy the demands of its voters after the June 7 general elections, especially regarding peace in Turkey's southeastern region
Deputy Prime Minister Cevdet Yılmaz said Friday that the acts, policies and discourse of the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) are mainly shaped by the PKK terrorist organization.
"Unfortunately, we saw once again that the HDP does not have a strong political will and it is the PKK that primarily determines [its policies]," Yılmaz told the Anadolu Agency Editor's Desk.
He claimed the HDP had failed to take a clear stance against PKK violence since a two-and-a-half year cease-fire collapsed at the end of July, seemingly ending the reconciliation process to solve the three-decade Kurdish conflict.
Around 100 members of the security forces have been killed and hundreds of PKK members killed in the latest round of violence, as well as more than 20 civilians.
Yılmaz said the HDP had promised peace in Turkey during its campaign for the June 7 general elections.
"[The HDP said] if you elect us, there will be more peace and tranquility," he said. "However, we have seen that the HDP has failed to justify the votes it received from so many people. HDP leaders have not pursued a policy that could meet the expectations of their voters."
Warning that terrorism aimed to pit people against each other, Yılmaz claimed terrorists were targeting Turkey's unity.
He called for the Turkish people to display their emotions in a democratic way and refrain from disruptive and provocative reactions, especially against the country's Kurdish population.
Following a terror attack that killed 16 soldiers in the southeastern province of Hakkari on Sunday, protests turned violent in some instances, with nationalist mobs attacking HDP offices, Kurdish businesses and individual Kurds around the country.
"Those engaged in acts that target the lives and properties of our Kurdish citizens in the name of protesting against terror are doing nothing but playing into the PKK's hands," Yılmaz said. Referring to a period at the height of the Kurdish conflict, he added: "Turkey will never go back to the '90s era that terrorists strive for."
Turning to calls for a bilateral cease-fire, Yılmaz refuted the suggestion that the security forces and the PKK could be viewed as equal participants in the violence.
"We have a terrorist organization on one side and on the other side there is a legitimate state that protects the rights of all its citizens," he said. "You cannot put them in the same pot."
He said calls to lay down arms should be directed at the PKK, not the Turkish state.
"A state could never lay down arms as it is obliged to always lawfully keep its armed and security forces on the ground for the safety of its people." Calling for a return to democratic politics, he said: "Everyone must see that weapons and democracy cannot exist together. ... We are faced with a choice: weapons or democracy."
Yılmaz touched on the situation in Cizre, a town in southeastern Turkey close to the Syrian and Iraqi borders that has been under a round-the-clock curfew for eight days. A group of HDP politicians, including lawmakers and two ministers in the interim government, were denied entry to the town on Thursday.
"Our government is acting very responsibly," he said. "That's why the operation took that much longer, so as not to lead to any injuries to people as we clear the region of armed elements for their safety.
"The security forces will not allow the entry of politicians into such an environment, with high security risks for their own safety."
Commenting on the economic effect the conflict was having on southeast Turkey, Yılmaz said the PKK had targeted public and private investment and Turkey's links with northern Iraq. "Their aim is to block public services from reaching the region and leaving economic problems unsolved so that they can have a free hand in the marsh they wish to create," he said.