Erdoğan rejects house arrest for PKK leader

6 January 2013 / TODAYSZAMAN.COM WITH WIRES, İSTANBUL – Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has rejected claims of a move to house arrest for jailed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan amidst a revival of talks with the leader of the terrorist organization over ending a conflict that has killed thousands of people over the past three decades.

Speaking to reporters at İstanbul Atatürk Airport before his trip to a number of African countries, including Gabon, Niger and Senegal, Erdoğan said there will be no general amnesty for those who have been involved in terrorist activities. Two weeks ago Erdoğan said talks on disarmament of the PKK with the jailed leader had resumed through the National Intelligence Organization (MİT).

However, he rejected news reports suggesting that Öcalan’s sentence could be converted to house arrest as part of negotiations for a deal with the terrorist organization. He stated that such a plan does not exist and will never take place during the Justice and Development Party’s (AK Party) tenure. Erdoğan also underlined that the İmralı talks are not new, as they started long ago to address to the ongoing conflict.

He reiterated the government’s position regarding the festering Kurdish issue, saying that his government says “yes” to meeting with political parties to find a viable solution to the problem while remaining strongly committed to fighting the terrorist organization.

In the meantime, Interior Minister İdris Naim Şahin reviewed recent efforts to contain insurgency across the country and terrorist activities in Turkey’s southeast. Speaking to the state-run TRT Haber news channel on Sunday, Interior Minister Şahin claimed that the government has been successful in combating terrorism and in his view this was achieved by a collaboration of powers in the country. Şahin went on to say that the special operation teams of the National Police Department have joined in counterterrorism operations in rural regions for the first time since the “postmodern” coup of 1997. He added that both gendarmerie and police intelligence offices are working together to end terrorism in the country and this unity has brought success in counterterrorism operations.