Government confident about PKK’s pullout process

ANKARA – Hürriyet Daily News – 27.4.2013 – Everything about the withdrawal of the outlawed PKK militants from Turkey is developing according to plans, key government officials say.

Key governmental officials remained confident about the fate of the peace process, despite all skeptical and harsh statements by the opposition camp over the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party’s (PKK) announcement of the exact date of their withdrawal from Turkish territories. They declared in harmony that the process, the eventual goal of which is to put an end to the almost three-decade-long conflict between security forces and the PKK, was moving forward as planned.

For some politicians, the end of terror is alarming because they would lose the vital material on which they build their main policies, Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç said April 26, a day after the PKK’s announcement that was interpreted by the opposition as proof of concessions to the organization made secretly by the government.

“Yesterday’s process was a process we anticipated. Of course, we meet with pleasure the fact that the armed elements will now leave Turkey,” Arınç said, speaking to reporters in Bayındır, İzmir, where he also underlined that the government would continue taking pains after the PKK withdrawal was completed as well. Deputy Prime Minister Beşir Atalay echoed what Arınç said, as he ruled out any stagnation or stumbling block which could have erupted after the PKK’s announcement. A process planned and conducted by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government is being experienced, Atalay said in an interview with SKY TÜRK news channel.”

All according to plan

“Everything is proceeding as planned. From the very beginning, there has been a strategy that has been worked on carefully; there have been plans and various meetings. Here that plan and that strategy is proceeding as it should,” Atalay said.

The PKK’s retreat from Turkey is a source of controversy as the government strictly called on the group to “bury their weapons” and leave the country. The PKK statement, delivered at a press conference held in the Kandil Mountains in northern Iraq, did not make any mention of how the retreat would take place but hinted that weapons would be close at hands.

“Armed elements will leave through the same known way [by] which they came to Turkey. Our government will know about this; our National Intelligence Organization [MİT] will know about this and will take the necessary precautions and it will definitely take precautions on whether this is realized. As for our armed forces or our overall security forces, they will carry on the duty assigned to them with great attention and care. There is nothing complicated here. If there is talk about the armed elements’ withdrawing from Turkey, there isn’t any further need to ask ‘With or without arms?’” Arınç said.

Senior PKK leader misunderstood part of the process: Turkish PM’s adviser

Meanwhile, the chief adviser to the Turkish prime minister, Yalçın Akdoğan, criticized the senior PKK leader’s approach to the peace process. “In Murat Karayılan’s statements there is an approach suggesting ‘First there will be normalization, then we will lay down the arms.’ This is not an accurate approach. The normalization stage will start after [the PKK] lays down its arms. In my opinion, Karayılan has misunderstood that part of the process,” Akdoğan said.

He also added that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s message for an unarmed withdrawal was more of a precaution than a condition. “The prime minister has said that … there would be a risk of sabotage and provocation if the withdrawal was pursued with arms,” he said, adding that the process had already led to many positive results.

“There may be elements that we do not approve of [in the PKK’s April 25 statement]. But what’s important is that the militants leave Turkey as soon as possible. This is a very important gain, a historic success,” Akdoğan said.