World Bulletin/News Desk
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Friday that his government is ready to pay any price in order to resolve Turkey's long-standing Kurdish problem and stop the bloodshed.
“If it is for the benefit of the nation and the country, if bloodshed and tears will cease, we, as the AK Party [Justice and Development Party] are ready to pay any price and will not hesitate to do so,” the prime minister said.
His remarks came during a meeting with AK Party provincial chairmen at the party's headquarters in Ankara.
State officials and the jailed leader of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), Abdullah Öcalan, have been having talks to broker a deal for the group to lay down its arms. The talks with Öcalan are being carried out by National Intelligence Organization (MİT) head Hakan Fidan, whose position as negotiator on behalf of the Turkish state has been confirmed by the government.
The PKK, listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey and much of the international community, has waged a bloody campaign for self-rule in predominantly Kurdish-populated southeastern Anatolia since 1984. More than 40,000 people, including civilians and security forces, have been killed in clashes with the terrorist group.
Öcalan, imprisoned on İmralı Island in the Marmara Sea south of İstanbul since his capture in 1999, has significant influence among PKK members and supporters. The Turkish state believes talks with the leader may lead to a timetable for the withdrawal of PKK militants from Turkey and the eventual laying down of arms.
In his speech, Erdoğan also talked about ongoing preparation of the new constitution and reiterated his government's determination to write a new and civilian text.
“God willing, if we receive the necessary support, we will show to this country, to the CHP [Republican People's Party] in particular how a civilian, participatory, pluralistic and human-centered constitution can be written. I have no concerns about this. We will prove that civilians also can write a constitution, even a better constitution for this country,” Erdoğan said.
Turkey's current constitution was drafted under martial law after the Sept. 12, 1980 military coup and has long been criticized for failing to respond to today's needs for broader rights and freedoms. A parliamentary commission, the Constitutional Reconciliation Commission, which was established in 2011 with members from all four political parties represented in Parliament, has been working on the new constitution since October 2011.
Last month, the government called on all political parties in Parliament to make their own drafts of a new constitution ready in the event the Constitutional Reconciliation Commission fails to reach consensus on a joint draft text before the end of March. The government also said it would present its own draft text to Parliament if the commission fails and call for a referendum.
Erdoğan said the talks on the new constitution cannot continue forever and that the government expects the work to be finished by March at the latest because the work on the draft was actually scheduled to finish at the end of 2012.
He said the opposition parties were dragging their feet on the preparation of the new constitution in order to hold the AK Party government responsible for its failure.
“We want to show this country, to its youth in particular, that this nation, this Parliament has the experience and determination to write a civilian constitution. If Parliament fails to do this, we will go to the nation, which is the owner of Parliament, with those who are at our side on this issue, and present a civilian constitution to the nation. Those who are used to constitutions which are imposed on the nation or prepared hastily surely will not accept this,” the prime minister added.
Turkey's long-standing expectations for a new civilian constitution have been stronger than ever since the June 12, 2011 parliamentary elections. All parties represented in Parliament vowed to draft a new constitution to replace the existing one.
Last Mod: 16 Şubat 2013, 13:45