New Kurdish party in Turkey pledges to be 'cautious' on PKK

Turkey's Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party has pledged to be more cautious than a predecessor party banned last year for ties with separatist PKK.

New Kurdish party in Turkey pledges to be 'cautious' on PKK

Turkey's Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) has pledged to be more cautious than a predecessor party banned last year for ties with separatist PKK militants.

Politicians from the Democratic Society Party (DTP) joined the BDP last December, enabling them to stay in parliament, after the DTP were banned by the Constitutional Court.

BDP Chairman Selahattin Demirtas, himself a former DTP member, told Reuters in an interview that he would put a distance between the militant illegal Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and his party.

He said the PKK was an entirely separate organisation and it was a mistake to believe the BDP had any authority to persuade them to lay down their arms.

"We can be involved in the process of solving the Kurdish issue, but matters related to abandoning arms and returning to Turkey must be discussed between the government and the PKK."

Turkey's top court closed the DTP, which had 21 deputies in parliament, for having links to the PKK, which is branded a terrorist organisation by Washington, Brussels and Ankara.

The ruling was criticised by the European Union and Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan.

"The PKK is a group which has a structure and administrative mechanism separate from us. If they have a word to say, they will say it ... If we would be the voice of something, it would be the BDP," Demirtas said.

He called for tougher criteria for closing down political parties.

"Regulations that allows the closing down of political parties should be lifted. It's a step the government should take to strengthen freedom of democracy."

The ruling AK Party wants to push reforms aimed at ending the conflict by increasing the rights of Turkey's Kurds, who account for up to 20 percent of the population of 72 million, thereby eroding support for the PKK.

Some 40,000 people have died in the conflict since 1984, most of them Kurds.

Reuters

Last Mod: 06 Şubat 2010, 18:51
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