Turkish gov't reinforces efforts to combat terrorism

MERVE AYDOĞAN @mgulaydogan
Turkish gov't reinforces efforts to combat terrorism

Ankara is increasing its effort to fight terrorism while PM Davutoğlu is expected to visit one southeastern provinces a week. President Erdoğan called for HDP deputy Leyla Zana to take an oath before meeting him

Ankara has intensified efforts to combat terrorism and heal the wounds inflicted on locals by the PKK terrorist organization, which took up arms against Turkey in the 1980s in order to carve out a separate state in the southeast.

The government's draft strategy for combating terrorism and fostering rehabilitation is expected to include the promise made by Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu to visit a southeastern provinces every week. Davutoğlu spoke to the media prior to his visit to Saudi Arabia on Thursday and promised he will begin visits to southeastern provinces once every week, starting with Mardin on Feb. 5. Commenting on the action plan, Prime Minister Davutoğlu said "We do not perceive combating terrorism as a security issue alone, rather we see it as protecting democracy and stability."

Underlining that differentiating between terrorist from locals depends on the solid ground of democracy, Turkey's Prime Minister continued on by stating that the priorities of the government are educational activities and social support activities, along with city planning. Along with efforts to re-establish public order and sustain unity of the country, Davutoğlu said that he will meet with the locals in the region, to listen and address their problems. "We will leave not one person with tears in their eyes, as we are determined to leave not even one terrorist in the region. Firstly, there should be no one with weapons in their hands who would prevent the living rights of citizens. Without this being addressed, claiming to be an advocate of peace is only a display of bias."

As a result of deadly terror attacks by the PKK terrorist organization throughout southeastern provinces of Turkey, the government had launched anti-terror operations. While the security officers work devotedly restore public order and security, Davutoğlu during the press conference on Thursday underlined that the Turkish security forces are determinedly clearing the trenches, barricades as well as mines placed throughout streets.

On Friday, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan answered questions regarding a possible meeting with Leyla Zana, a senior figure from the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), saying that first it was necessary for her to take the oath required in Parliament. He said that the issues Zana would like to highlight in the meeting were conveyed to his staff by an associate of the HDP deputy, and added: "If what she wants to talk about are these issues, there is no point in meeting." Stressing that some of the issues Zana wants to discuss are related to Abdullah Öcalan, the imprisoned leader of the PKK terrorist organization, Erdoğan said Öcalan's prison facility conditions are fine.

Zana violated Article 81 of the Constitution in November when she partially changed the oath while reciting it in Parliament.

Before taking her oath at the lectern, Zana said "biji aşiti," which in Kurdish means "long live peace." She also changed the oath at another point by saying "The nation of Turkey," instead of the "Turkish nation."

In 1991, Zana violated the oath when saying the final sentence in Kurdish as follows: "I take this oath for the brotherhood between the Turkish people and the Kurdish people."

Zana is a veteran Kurdish politician with and a deputy representing Ağrı in eastern Turkey.

Erdoğan also refuted allegations by HDP deputies that wounded PKK members are not taken by ambulances in the Cizre district of southeastern Diyarbakır province. He said: "Those [accusations] are all lies. There are ambulances ready there all the time."

He recalled that announcements are constantly made by ambulances to bring the injured out for treatment, but locals do not emerge.

Regarding the hunger strike launched by HDP deputies inside the Interior Ministry after allegations that injured terrorists are not taken by ambulance, Erdoğan said the deputies were behaving like servants of the PKK.

* Sena Alkan contributed this report.

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