April 26, 2013- AFP / REUTERS – ANKARA : Turkey said Friday its forces would show “great care” during a pullback starting next month by Kurdish PKK rebels heading back to their bases in Iraqi Kurdistan, in a major step to end three decades of hostilities.
“Our armed forces, and collective security forces will do their tasks with great care and attention,” Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said on Turkish television, without elaborating further. Arinc did not provide any details on the government strategy during the withdrawal of outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) fighters from the Turkey’s Kurdish territory but instead called on everyone to “act with sensitivity” and avoid any action which could “sabotage” the peace process.
The PKK’s retreat from Turkey will be closely watched because previous withdrawal attempts by the group has seen clashes between Turkey’s security forces and the PKK. “The point we have reached in the process is very important and we need to be sensitive for it to be completed successfully,” Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said. “It is necessary to determinedly avoid behaviour and actions which would sabotage the process,” he said, criticising opposition parties including the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) for seeking to “besmirch” the government.
Nationalists have made no secret of their opposition to negotiating with the Kurdish militants. “The Turkish nation will under no conditions surrender to the PKK or consent to the PKK’s treacherous demands,” MHP leader Devlet Bahceli said in a statement. Arinc’s comments came a day after Kurdish rebels announced they would on May 8 begin withdrawing from Turkey into their safe haven in northern Iraq amid a peace push between Ankara and the PKK. The pledged withdrawal, which is expected to take several months, is aimed to be finalised “as soon as possible,” according to PKK leader Murat Karayilan.
Arinc welcomed the PKK announcement.