BDP selects names of Kurdish politicians to join peace talks

14 February 2013 /TODAY’S ZAMAN, İSTANBUL – The pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) submitted a petition to the Ministry of Justice on Thursday, naming three Kurdish politicians the party wants to have join the ongoing peace talks with the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Ahmet Türk, co-chairman of the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Congress (DTK) and an independent deputy, BDP Co-chairperson Selahattin Demirtaş and BDP parliamentary group deputy chairwoman Pervin Buldan are the three Kurdish politicians named in the petition.

If the Ministry of Justice approves the BDP’s request, these deputies will travel to İmralı Island to meet with the jailed leader of the PKK, Abdullah Öcalan, who is serving a life sentence. Over the past weeks, there has been uncertainty and debates over which Kurdish politicians will join the peace talks between the government and the PKK. Öcalan, imprisoned on İmralı Island in the Sea of Marmara, south of İstanbul, since his capture in 1999, has significant influence among PKK members and supporters. The Turkish state believes that talks with the terrorist leader may result in a schedule for the withdrawal of PKK terrorists from Turkey and their eventual disarmament.

BDP parliamentary group deputy chairman İdris Baluken said on Wednesday that the ongoing debates about the BDP delegation, which will travel to İmralı Island to meet with Öcalan, are “superficial” and “meaningless.” Speaking to BBC Turkish, Baluken said his party finds the crisis over the names of the BDP members who will go to İmralı an unnecessary one. “If there is sincerity regarding the solution of the 100-year-long problem, this crisis has no validity,” Baluken said, adding that what needs to be discussed is the peace process and the roadmap instead of names. The BDP is opposed to the notion of Öcalan as the sole interlocutor in the peace talks by the Turkish state. BDP Co-chairperson Demirtaş said earlier this month that the state should also recognize the BDP and PKK leaders in the Kandil Mountains as interlocutors. In addition, the BDP believes that state authorities should hold talks with the officials of the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) — an umbrella organization which prosecutors say encompasses the PKK — as part of the peace process.