World Bulletin / News Desk
Turkey is willing to continue the 'solution process' to bring an end to terrorism and address issues related to the country's Kurdish minority, Turkish Interior Minister Muammer Guler said Sunday.
Following an enthusiastic overture between the government and the PKK organization in March, the solution process has largely stalled, with parties exchanging blame for failing to keep promises.
"We intend to maintain the process but whoever tries to subvert it will have to answer the people of the region, their own constituencies, and basically everyone," said the minister.
Guler noted that approval ratings towards the process have been as high as 90 percent in the southeastern provinces where PKK, based in northern Iraq, exerts influence. The Minister called the figures a "message" for stakeholders engaged in the region.
“These (numbers) must definitely mean something,” he said.
“We might have differences, but if we want to coexist as equal citizens under the same government, then we must have the will to live together.”
A year into the process, the government accuses the PKK of not having withdrawn the majority of its armed militiamen from Turkish soil, with official accounts putting the number of departures at 15-20 percent.
PKK for its part argues the government has been slow to roll out a number of democratic reforms it pledged, aimed at advancing human rights and state of minorities, especially the Kurds.
Guler believes the organization sees its armed presence as an ace in the hole.
"It is not in keeping with the spirit of the solution process to voice democratic demands on one hand and holding a gun in the other," he said.
PKK's armed attacks since 1980s have claimed the lives of nearly 40,000 people, according to official figures.
More than 11,000 civilians and security forces, and nearly 28,000 members of the armed group have been killed.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan revealed December last year that Turkish intelligence officials had been meeting imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan, a disclosure that perturbed many in a section of the society where Ocalan is frequently referred to as "baby killer."
Amid ongoing contact with the government, Ocalan announced a ceasefire and an end to armed struggle, saying PKK members would drop arms and begin retreating from the Turkish territory.
Deadlines have remained flexible, given the fragility of the nascent effort to crack the thorny issue after years of violence and mutual distrust.
Premier Erdogan unveiled a 'democratization package' last month that proposed reforms to extend political rights, ensure better accountability for hate crimes and discrimination, and address demands for education in mother tongue, among other amendments.
Opposition leaders maintain the package has failed to meet expectations, while Erdogan says the reforms are only the beginning and part of an ongoing process of democratization.Last Mod: 03 Kasım 2013, 15:49