Erdogan Adviser: Assad Provokes Turkey Through PKK and PYD
17/08/2012 RUDAW By KEMAL AVCI – Dr. Yalcin Akdogan is a Turkish MP from the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and advisor to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Rudaw conducted an interview with Akdogan in which he dismissed claims that Turkey is against Kurdish rights in Syria, but stressed that “Turkey will not allow the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party) to have a base in Syria.”
Rudaw: What expectations do you have for Syria after President Bashar al-Assad?
Yalcin Akdogan: The future of Syria must be decided by its own people. But, as the neighbor of Syria, we want the territorial integrity of Syria to be protected and a strong government be formed with the participation of all groups in Syria.
Writing a new constitution is very important for Syria. This new constitution must guarantee the rights of all religious and ethnic groups in Syria. Today, some countries look at Syria differently. They only want build bases in that country. But Turkey is looking at Syria in a humanitarian way.
Rudaw: Would you consider a Kurdish autonomous region in Syria as a threat to Turkey? What would be Turkey’s reaction to this outcome?
“The future of Syria must be decided by its own people.”
Yalcin Akdogan: Turkey will be very pleased if Syria becomes secure and strong. Without security, not only Syria but the whole region is affected. The issue of autonomy is not the issue of only one group; it is the issue of Arabs, Assyrians and all Syrians. The attitude of “I did it and it is over” will never end well. The future of a country cannot be decided by wild steps taken in the absence of authority. Once a free election is held and the true will of the people surfaces, these issues will eventually be resolved.
There have been recent rumors that Turkey is against Kurdish rights in Syria. This is a very false interpretation of the situation. Today, Turkey has relations with the Syrian National Council (SNC) which is led by a Kurd. We also have relations with some parties inside the Kurdish National Council (KNC). Turkey has always considered the Kurds as brothers and as a piece of their own heart.
But Turkey has reservations towards the PKK. Turkey is ready to offer all kind of help in order to achieve the rights of the Kurds, but will never allow the PKK to establish bases in northern Syria and threaten Turkey. The PKK is hindering the process of solving the Kurdish issue in Turkey and preventing dialogue and peaceful settlement. The PKK presence in Syria will have the same impact on the political process in Syria.
Rudaw: How would you evaluate the role of Iraqi Kurdistan in regards to Syria and what are your expectations?
Yalcin Akdogan: [Kurdistan President] Massoud Barzani is one of the politicians who we value a lot. Barzani has influence even outside northern Iraq. Our Kurdish brothers in Iraq know well how we assisted them in their hard days. The AKP government has demonstrated a friendly policy towards Iraq in general and the Kurds in particular. There are good relations between us and the regional administration in northern Iraq.
Barzani is influential among the Kurdish groups of the KNC and has good relations with Turkey. But the PYD (Democratic Union Party) acted differently than the other Syrian Kurdish groups and formed secret relations with the Assad regime. The PYD tried to test its power on other Kurdish groups and show itself as the only powerful party among Syrian Kurds. From the very beginning, the Assad regime has attempted to anger Turkey through the PKK and PYD. Currently, the PYD is presenting itself as a political player and is creating new struggles which will help the schemes of Assad.
Turkey has conveyed its concerns to Barzani about this issue. If the PKK becomes powerful in the north of Syria, this will cause problems not only for that region but for northern Iraq as well. Barzani has experienced an armed conflict with the PKK in the past and I believe that he is well aware of the situation at hand.
“Turkey is ready to offer all kind of help in order to achieve the rights of the Kurds, but will never allow the PKK to establish bases in northern Syria and threaten Turkey.”
Rudaw: Salih Muslim, co-leader of the PYD, said, “We want democratic autonomy within the borders of Syria and do not have animosity towards Turkey.” Why does Turkey see the PYD as a threat? Could Turkey attack Syria because of the PYD and does international law permit this?
Yalcin Akdogan: The PYD acts as if it is the most important party in Syria and as if it has been present in Syria for many years. What is most important is that Assad has called Muslim from outside Syria and placed the PYD in the front. It would be unjust for other Kurdish parties in Syria to forget this about the PYD.
The PYD is openly a branch of the terrorist group PKK. The PYD is practicing a dishonest and two-faced policy. A group of Syrian Kurds who recently gained power inside the PKK in the region along the Turkish-Syrian border is posing a primary threat to Turkey. All states have the right to defend themselves and their citizens. Turkey has the right to strike terrorist bases in northern Iraq and can use the same right and strike other regions.
Rudaw: Does the AKP have any plans to radically resolve the Kurdish issue in Turkey?
Yalcin Akdogan: The AKP has achieved what no previous Turkish government has. It eradicated the denial of Kurdish existence in Turkey and solved many other issues. The AKP has done many important things to achieve basic rights for Kurds and developing politics and the economy in the region. It is for this reason that the AKP is the most successful party in east and southeastern Turkey.
Turkey has shown its good will through the Oslo meetings [between Turkish intelligence and PKK] but nevertheless our initiative was sabotaged. After the elections and during preparations for writing the new constitution, the PKK launched a new strategy under the name of “the war of the revolutionary nation.”
Despite all these sabotages by the PKK, the Turkish government is still carrying on its multilateral reform plans. Recently, Turkey added the Kurdish language as an optional class in the pubic schools. The establishment of an independent human rights center is another important step.
The attitude of the Turkish state has changed, but the PKK is still the same. The goal of the AKP is to make Kurdish citizens as content as the other citizens of Turkey, but not the PKK and its supporters. The PKK is putting its ideologies and goals ahead of the interests of the Kurds, therefore the demands of the PKK are different than the demands of the normal Kurdish citizens of Turkey.
Today, the existence of the PKK is the biggest obstacle on the path to any solutions. The PKK has threatened shopkeepers and forced them to close their shops; they threaten citizens against voting; they set vehicles on fire, threaten other parties, extort money from citizens. People are tired of their practices. For this reason, the Turkish state needs to step up security measures in order to protect its citizens.
Rudaw: How do you evaluate the role of Peace and Democracy Party (BDP)? Can they play any role in solving the Kurdish issue?
Yalcin Akdogan: The BDP is practicing a risky policy by creating animosity and differences among people. The hostile attitude of the BDP and its nationalistic rhetoric are negatively affecting people and making the job of the government more difficult. The BDP is controlled by the PKK and cannot choose its own independent and realistic policy.
“The BDP is practicing a risky policy by creating animosity and differences among people.”
Terrorism and democracy are two separate paths. Those who cannot differentiate between political and armed struggle will forever remain under the pressure of weapons. We find the advice of Mr. Barzani to the BDP to be reasonable. PM Erdogan has implemented the policy of “fighting terrorism and holding talks with politics.” The BDP is www.mesop.de stuck between Imrali Island [prison where PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan is being held] and the Qandil Mountains [where the PKK are based] and cannot have its own independent policy. The BDP can play an important role in the process of solving the Kurdish issue, but not with its current policies.
Rudaw: It is said that state officials have started holding meetings with Ocala at Imrali. Is this true?
Yalcin Akdogan: I am not aware of whether there are meetings or not. As you know, the recent attack by the PKK has terminated the Oslo process. Although Murat Karayilan [acting PKK leader] claimed that the attack was carried out by a group which was not controlled by the PKK, Duran Kalkan [senior PKK commander] said the attack was planned and part of the new strategy of the PKK.
Inside the PKK, there is a group who says “armed struggle is the only way.” Ocalan says “dialogues and terror.” They believe holding talks and meetings is a sign of weakness and a temporary tactic by Turkey. They are trying to achieve their goals by detonating bombs. There has recently been hope that the administration of northern Iraq could play a role. We have to cooperate with Barzani to fight terrorism in the same way we have cooperated in the fields of energy and trade.