MESOP : APO CALLS FOR PEACE FOR ERDOGAN ! – Erdoğan steps up criticism of gov’t policy on Kurdish peace process

March 22, 2015, Sunday/ 13:45:33/ TODAYSZAMAN.COM / ISTANBUL – President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has stepped up his criticism of the government’s moves as part of a settlement process with the Kurds, saying he is opposed to a landmark government meeting with the pro-Kurdish Democratic Peoples’ Party (HDP) and the 10-article declaration that followed it.“I don’t find the meeting appropriate,” Erdoğan said of the Feb. 28 meeting, which was attended by a group of HDP politicians and senior government officials including Deputy Prime Minister Yalçın Akdoğan and then-Interior Minister Efkan Ala. “I personally don’t think it is appropriate for the deputy prime minister to pose for cameras with a group that is currently in Parliament,” he told journalists traveling with him on his return from a visit to Ukraine.

The 10-point declaration, which includes rather vague proposals for democratization from the jailed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan, was announced by HDP deputy Sırrı Süreyya Önder following talks with Akdoğan and Ala. Önder and other HDP politicians appeared before cameras together with Akdoğan and Ala as he read Öcalan’s statement to the media at İstanbul’s historic Dolmabahçe Palace.

In the same statement, Öcalan called on the PKK to convene a conference to discuss laying down arms. In his remarks published in newspapers on Sunday, Erdoğan said the 10-point declaration has “nothing do with democracy.” He asked: “How am I supposed to accept this text in the name of democracy? There is no call for democracy in it.” Öcalan repeated his call for a PKK congress to discuss laying down arms in a message read out to a crowd of tens of thousands attending Nevruz celebrations in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır on Saturday. He also suggested that the government should take the steps outlined in the declaration for the PKK to convene the congress on abandoning arms.

No Kurdish problem

Erdoğan’s remarks appear to indicate a growing rift between him and the government over the settlement process, which was initiated by Erdoğan in 2012 and consists of talks with Öcalan and the state officials with the aim of resolving Turkey’s decades-old Kurdish issue and ending the PKK’s violent campaign.

Erdoğan said on Friday that he was opposed to the planned establishment of a “monitoring committee” that will be tasked with observing the secret talks with Öcalan, despite an earlier statement from Akdoğan that the committee will be established soon and will consist of five or six members.The statement drew an unprecedented response from Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç, who said on Saturday that the government is in charge of the settlement process and will go ahead with its establishment as agreed with the Kurdish side as part of the process.

In remarks en route to Turkey, Erdoğan repeated his criticism of the planned committee, a measure he said he had opposed when he was the prime minister. The president said the committee was aimed at “boosting the legitimacy of the island,” referring to Öcalan who is kept in a prison on İmralı, an island off İstanbul.“This is another disaster,” he said. “This is a step in the direction of boosting the legitimacy of the island. Therefore, it is a dangerous step.”

The president also repeated an assertion that there is no Kurdish issue any more, saying “policies of denial” were ended after the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) came to power. “Our government is the one which put an end to denial policies. Can anyone still say there is a Kurdish problem in this country? Our Kurdish citizens may have problems. So may the Turkish citizens. But there are those who profit from promoting discrimination by saying that there is a Kurdish problem,” said Erdoğan. He readily dismissed Kurdish demands for education in mother tongue, saying measures that introduced optional Kurdish classes were enough. “These demands will never end,” he said. “Why? Because they are not sincere.”