Erdoğan admitted Öcalan’s influence in hunger strike

20 November 2012 – ANF – President Abdullah Gül said time for parliamentary debate on Kurdish issue. – Speaking to daily Milliyet journalist Fikret Bila, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan hinted at talks with Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan, admitting that Kurdish leader’s call has been effective in the ending of the hunger strike by political prisoners in Turkey prisons.

Referring to Mehmet Öcalan’s meeting with the Kurdish leader last Saturday, Erdoğan claimed that Öcalan who has been refusing to see his family so far has himself asked to see his brother this time.

Asked if Öcalan would have sent the same message if he had been enabled to meet his brother earlier, Erdoğan said that “Despite the existing problems concerning his meeting with his lawyers, we have always expressed that he could be able to meet his family without facing any legal obstacles. So, his refusal to meet his family earlier wasn’t related with any kind of prevention on our side”.

Asked if the state has agreed anything with Öcalan for his making a call to end the hunger strike, Erdoğan said they haven’t promised him anything in this respect and added: “We have meant to solve the Kurdish question since we came into power and we have been addressing the issue from a different perspective since 2005 when we withdrew from the policies of denial and assimilation against Kurds whom we now see and call as our brothers and sisters”. Erdoğan claimed that his AK Party has been investing in the Kurdish region in socio-economic, psychological and diplomatical areas.

When asked if the most recent meeting indicated a new process of talks with Öcalan, Erdoğan said: ”When he demanded for a meeting, we have enabled it. Talks with Imralı, referring to Öcalan, could re-start again through our main tool, namely the National Intelligence Service. We see no harm in doing this because the major point is to solve the problem”.Speaking at a joint press conference with Chilean President Sebastian Pinera on Monday, Turkish President Abdullah Gül also expressed his satisfaction for the end of the hunger strike in Turkish prisons without any deaths and said it is time for a Parliamentary debate to speed up efforts for a resolution to Turkey’s decades old Kurdish issue. Gül claimed that people in Turkey can easily voice even their most extreme opinions and added that problems should be solved without resorting to violence.