World Bulletin/News Desk
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called on Turkey's friends and sister countries to support the settlement process, which he said concerns other countries in the region as well.
Speaking at the 22nd annual meeting of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) at the İstanbul Congress Center on Friday, the prime minister touched on the government's ongoing settlement initiative.
In a bid to resolve the country's decades-old conflict between the state and Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), at the end of last year the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government launched negotiations with imprisoned PKK head Abdullah Öcalan.
In the past months, Öcalan, who, despite his 14 years in prison still wields enormous clout over the PKK as well as millions of nationalist Kurds in Turkey, called on PKK militants to lay down their arms and leave Turkey.
The militants started to withdraw from the country in small groups as of May 8.
Erdoğan said Turkey has turned a new leaf with the launch of the settlement process.
The prime minister then went on to talk about the democratic, economic and other damages the conflict has caused in Turkey so far.
“The toll of the past 30 years was quite heavy for our nation and country. We have lost more than 40,000 people. Our internal and foreign policy and democracy in particular have been heavily affected by this. And the economic cost [of terrorism] has amounted to $350 billion according to various calculations. On top of this, investments in certain regions of the country could not be improved like they did in other regions and the problems of unemployment and poverty remain unsolved,” the prime minister said. And yet, he added, there have been and will be positive outcomes from the settlement process in terms of the economy.
Erdoğan also called Turkey's settlement initiative a democratization process which requires a great deal of effort.
“While evaluating the developments in the region, we should not forget that democratization requires long-lasting efforts and it is normal that there will be ups and downs throughout the process. It would be wrong to offer a pessimistic view regarding the future of the region by focusing on only the negativities,” he noted.Last Mod: 11 Mayıs 2013, 09:54