In an interview broadcasted simultaneously by CNN Türk and Kanal D, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan discussed a number of pressing issues on the agenda including the potential withdrawal of the PKK from Turkey's borders. "The PKK needs to drop their weapons first. If they were to cross over the border with weapons then for our military to do nothing would constitute a crime or aiding and abetting," said Erdoğan, who went on to deliver the following messages:
SUPPORT IN THE EAST REACHES 80 PERCENT: "Support for the ongoing peace process is now at 77 percent in the East and up to 80 percent in the Southeast. It is these regions that are suffering the most from both material and spiritual losses. Even though despite all of the difficulties and improbabilities, we have invested 36 quadrillion in our former currency, due to the situation in the region, none of those niceties are evident. Our National Education Minister paid a visit to Hakkâri. When he returned he said the atmosphere had changed immensely and that there was a stir amongst merchants and citizens. He also said there were requests for schools to be built and opened."
AN UNARMED WITHDRAWAL: "Those who will be withdrawing from our borders need to drop their weapons. If need be, they should bury them, it doesn't matter to us. They need to drop them and leave. Otherwise the situation will be vulnerable to provocation. When the issue of a legal framework is mentioned, this legal framework cannot be contrary to the constitution. The government will be the ones handling this transition."
TO NOT RECOGIZE THE LAW: "I am not saying, 'silence the weapons,' I am saying, 'drop the weapons'. If you cross over the border carrying a weapon, then what are the security forces supposed to do? If they do nothing, it becomes a crime and aiding and abetting. To draft legislation that would allow for this would be going against the constitution," said Erdoğan who also shared that according to authorities, there are approximately 1,500 to 2,000 terrorists in Turkey.
'A STRONG TURKEY SHOULD NOT FEAR THE STATE SYSTEM'
When asked a question regarding the possibility of Turkey switching to a state system, Prime Minister Erdoğan said that when you look at the strongest nations in the world, none of them harbor a fear of the state system.
IT WILL BRING DEVELOPMENT: "Quite the contrary, state structures in developed countries speeds up development and brings on political competition in democracy and this is a sign of strength. When we look back at our own history we see that interestingly enough, during the Ottoman Empire there was both a Lazistan and a Kurdistan state. When you head south you see the same state-system. Why is it that the powerful Ottomans were comfortably able to provide this system? This is what I am trying to say, 'A powerful Turkey should never fear the state system'. It is both possible to maintain a federal system as well as a unitary structure."
NO HOUSE ARREST FOR ÖCALAN
Responding to a question regarding the option of granting house arrest for the imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan, Erdoğan answered, "I have said this before; house arrest will never be an option. Why are we paying this extent of money for İmralı? Because, if we housed Öcalan in a normal F-type penitentiary then there would be demonstrations held there daily, is that what we are going to deal with? We put up with the situation as it is in order to ensure unrest does not further escalate."
'THERE ARE OBSTACLES TO THE HALKI SEMINARY'
When asked if there were obstacles preventing the reopening of the Halki Seminary, Erdoğan responded that "yes, there are." Erdoğan explained that he has asked state ministers to 'be understanding'; however they want to ensure the two mosques planned are opened in Athens. Erdoğan also mentioned that Muslim minorities in Western Thrace should be allowed to elect their own mufti.
WISE-PEOPLE COMMITTEES TO BE DETERMINED WITHIN THE NEXT 1-2 DAYS
Erdoğan also commented on the formation of 'wise people' committees to assist in informing the public and facilitating the peace process. "We will have reached a conclusion on the wise people committees within the next few days. You may be amongst them," said Erdoğan explaining that there will be seven committees, consisting of seven individuals each that will be assigned certain regions in the country. "Their efforts will be directed at establishing and developing a public perception." Erdoğan says that he will be in direct contact with the chairman of each committee and ensured that they will not be in charge of monitoring the withdrawal process as previously purported.