DTP's request FOR ÖCALAN sparks reaction

The events surrounding the latest round of the presidential election have caused a distinct cooling of relations between the Democratic Society Party (DTP) and the Justice and Development Party's (AK Party).

DTP's request FOR ÖCALAN sparks reaction
The events surrounding the latest round of the presidential election have caused a distinct cooling of relations between the Democratic Society Party (DTP) and the Justice and Development Party's (AK Party).

Recent remarks made by DTP officials suggesting the improvement of prison conditions for terrorist leader Abdullah Öcalan, currently serving a life sentence on İmralı Island, also changed the way the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the Republican People's Party (CHP) view the DTP.

While previously seeing the DTP's entrance to Parliament as an opportunity, the parties regard the DTP's attempt to effect better prison conditions for Öcalan as a big mistake.

The DTP has decided not to support the ruling AK Party presidential nominee, Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül. Gül met with the DTP executives before the first round of the presidential ballot but declined DTP's leader Ahmet Türk's request to introduce new strategies to help solve the Kurdish problem. This sequence of events is thought to lie behind the casting of empty ballots by DTP deputies in the voting

Nihat Ergün, the deputy chairman of the AK Party parliamentary group, speaking to Today's Zaman, stated that the DTP executives should make good use of the opportunity given by the Turkish nation. "The DTP members should try to improve the living conditions of the people in the region rather than the prison conditions of Öcalan," he said. Ergün noted that the DTP deputies should not expect new strategies for the solution of the Kurdish problem, adding:

"During the five-year [term] of the AK Party government, the problems relating to human rights, democratization and cultural rights have been gradually solved. Kurdish citizens are very content with the steps taken during the last five years. This contentment can be seen in the election results. The people in the region are expecting [further] improvement in their living conditions. They want not only the removal of obstacles before [their] identity, but also the betterment of living standards. People expect investment in water supply, education and infrastructure in their villages.

"The living conditions of prisoners are better than those of villagers in Turkey. This is so despite the fact that people living in villages are not criminals. Those staying in the state prisons have better living conditions although they are criminals. For this reason, we must concentrate on improving the living conditions of people living in villages and towns. If a prisoner is treated differently from other prisoners in an unfair manner, it is the state's duty to remove this injustice. In the past it was claimed that Öcalan had been poisoned, but the Justice Ministry conducted an examination that found out that the claims were false.

"The DTP's parliamentary presence is seen as an opportunity for the solutions of problems in Turkey. This opportunity should not be wasted. If the DTP deputies concentrate only on betterment of Öcalan's conditions, this will be a historic mistake."

DTP demands constitutional amendment

DTP parliamentary group Deputy Chairman Selahattin Demirtas stated that in the meeting they held with the AK Party executives, they requested new strategies for the solution of the Kurdish problem and they expected the inclusion of certain proposals from the DTP in the constitutional amendment package, but the AK Party did not make any promise to them.

"The AK Party's message that it would solve the Kurdish problem would have been very important. But they did not make the slightest promise in this issue. They just mentioned the steps they took in their previous term and said that these steps will continue. For this reason, we cast empty votes in the first round. Our attitude will be like this in the future rounds. The improvement of Öcalan's conditions is only one of the hundreds of projects planned by our party's management. Judging us only with respect to this issue would not be correct thing to do. Moreover we have not taken any step in this respect," Demirtas explained.

"We are aware of our responsibilities and we consider our representation in Parliament as an opportunity for bringing peace and tranquility to Turkey. We just wanted to know if there is any draft amendment that may be inclusive to the solution of the Kurdish problem. However, no such message was given to us. The CHP deputies and other parties exert pressure and Gül is making promises to them. But they do not give a response to us. In 2005 the prime minister promised to solve the Kurdish problem. We expect the continuation of these steps. Most important of all, the constitutional amendment package should clean the Constitution of ideological approaches. Secondly, the Constitution should not merge and unify the ethnic identities. The definition of Turkishness, in Article 66 of the Constitution, may be amended. The Constitution should recognize ethnic differences and should be based on the bond of citizenship and should clarify the issues of education language and mother language. We just wanted to make sure that our contributions are taken into consideration. But the AK Party was not warm to the idea," he told Today's Zaman.

AK Party: We bargain with nobody

Ergün explained that Gül had not bargained with any group during his visits. "We are not seeking conditional support. We requested support from all parties: we did not propose any condition for it. Turkey's democratization will naturally continue. The work for improving human rights and freedoms will continue. Economic development will continue. We are not performing these things just because a certain party requested, but because this is expected by people, and we will continue to do so."

MHP regrets shaking hands with DTP

The MHP reacted harshly to the remarks by some DTP executives regarding for betterment of Öcalan's prison conditions. MHP İstanbul deputy Gündüz Aktan, speaking to Today's Zaman, said: "They should recognize the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) as a terrorist organization as most countries do. Other approaches to this issue would not be correct."

Today's Zaman
Last Mod: 24 Ağustos 2007, 12:23
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