World Bulletin/News Desk
Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ has said that the peace talks with the imprisoned head of the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), Abdullah Öcalan, are ongoing and that the justice minister has yet to select people for a new delegation to visit the terrorist leader in prison.
“As it is called, this is a process. It may pick up pace at some times, and it may slow down at other times. The justice minister will decide who will go to İmralı and when. No such decision has been made yet,” Bozdağ told reporters on Friday as he was about to enter the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) headquarters in Ankara.
Öcalan, in prison on the island of İmralı in the Sea of Marmara, south of İstanbul, since his capture in 1999, has significant influence over PKK members and supporters. The government confirmed the first round of the peace talks at the beginning of the year. The talks with Öcalan are being carried out by National Intelligence Organization (MİT) head Hakan Fidan. Some Kurdish politicians are also involved in the talks. The Turkish state believes that these negotiations with the terrorist leader may lead to a timetable for the withdrawal of PKK terrorists from Turkey and the group's eventual disarmament.
Also on Friday, Öcalan's brother Mehmet Öcalan announced that he has filed an application with the Bursa Chief Public Prosecutor's Office to visit his brother on İmralı. “No answer has come yet. The prosecutor's office will inform us through our lawyers. If we receive a positive response, it will not be immediately clear if I will go with my family or with a delegation from the BDP [Peace and Democracy Party],” Mehmet Öcalan said.
In the meantime, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said that MİT Undersecretary Hakan Fidan may have paid a visit to Öcalan since his last reported visit and that the undersecretary would inform him as to the course of the peace talks.
“I will hold a meeting with my colleagues. The MİT undersecretary may have paid another visit to İmralı in the meantime [while I was abroad]. I will be briefed about the [peace talks],” stated the prime minister on Thursday when speaking to journalists on a plane returning to Turkey from Europe, following a series of official meetings Erdoğan held in the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary.
The prime minister also said that BDP deputies would not be permitted to visit the PKK leader in prison as part of the peace talks. “We will not allow those [to go] who have close ties with the [PKK commanders in the] mountains,” he stated.
Claims were made earlier this month that BDP Co-Chairman Selahattin Demirtaş is trying to pressure state authorities into including him and other co-chairpersons of the BDP in the peace talks. Demirtaş made public remarks last month that BDP chairpersons should also be allowed to meet with Öcalan as mediators within the scope of the peace process.
Turkish authorities have so far held three rounds of talks with the PKK. The last effort was in Oslo, where Fidan headed an MİT delegation in 2010. The talks were ineffective and interrupted in July 2011 when the PKK staged an attack in Silvan, Diyarbakır. Talks were relaunched two months ago -- although this was revealed to the public only recently -- when the government determined that the imprisoned PKK leader still had power over the organization's supporters when a call he made to Kurdish prisoners who were on a collective hunger strike was enough to end that protest. However, some experts have expressed doubt that the PKK commanders fighting in the mountains will obey Öcalan when it comes to laying down their weapons.
Also on Thursday, Erdoğan received MİT Undersecretary Fidan at his residence at the Prime Ministry for a weekly meeting. The two reportedly discussed Turkey's ongoing fight against terrorism, including a recent deadly bomb attack at the US Embassy in Ankara by a suicide bomber from the Revolutionary People's Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C). The meeting lasted for 40 minutes.
PM warns deputies not to sabotage peace talks
Later on Thursday, the prime minister held a meeting with the deputies of his AK Party who were elected from the Black Sea provinces, the residents of which are better known for having strong nationalist sentiments, and asked them to explain to their fellow townsmen about the ongoing peace talks on İmralı and to avoid any act that may sabotage the talks.
Erdoğan held similar meetings with other AK Party deputies from the eastern and southeastern parts of the country.
Deputy Prime Minister Beşir Atalay was also among the participants at Thursday's meeting.
The prime minister reportedly told the meeting attendees: “Avoid comments that may sabotage the peace process. We have always underlined that the PKK problem is something not directly linked to our Kurdish citizens. We are walking down the road to a solution. The opposition [parties are] trying to sabotage the process with slander and lies. My expectation from you is to tell the people about the process.”Last Mod: 09 Şubat 2013, 15:21