Öcalan: We are prepared for peace

ANF – Ankara 14.02.2014 – BDP MPs have held a press conference in the Turkish Parliament in Ankara. Pervin Buldan, İdris Baluken and Diyarbakir MP Altan Tan all took part. The MPs discussed the recent meetings with imprisoned Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan, ongoing negotiations with the state, and the fragile condition of the peace process more generally.

The MPs began by voicing their support for three proposals that Öcalan outlined in his most recent meeting on February 8th: the implementation of a legal framework for the negotiations, the formation of observatory bodies, and a permanent commission to oversee the negotiations along 8 general headings. The MPs also shared Öcalan’a warning to the government that certain groups were attempting to undermine the peace process. “They are still not even aware of the of what the parallel state is doing,” Öcalan was reported to have said, “If the AKP does not take a step now the political cost will be very heavy from their perspective. In the past those who did not solve the Kurdish problem disappeared.”

We Have Insisted On The Politics Of A Democratic Solution

Buldan then began my calling for the peace process to put on a healthy foundation and to go forward on a democratic path. “As is known” Buldan began, “Mr. Öcalan’s entrance into the peace process began at a time of heavy fighting and when those in prison were on the brink of death owing to hunger strikes. We passed into an important phase when Mr. Öcalan made his statement last year on March 21st, emphasising that a new era had begun which opened the door to move from armed resistance to democratic politics, and in which he made a call for a democratic Turkey in which all could live a life of equality, freedom and in brotherhood under the slogan ‘Now no more weapons, talk politics.’ As the KCK decided to declare a ceasefire, the guerrillas began a withdrawal from beyond the borders [of Turkey] on May 8th. In this way the peace process entered a very important phase.”

Buldan continued, “As the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) we have exerted much effort in order to prepare the way for a solution since the beginning of this process as meetings between the government and Imrali, and the government and Kandil continue. From January 3, 2013 until today our delegation has had 16 meetings on Imrali. After every meeting we came together with government officials, and consulted with them on the steps in the peace process. With the involvement of parliament concerning the withdrawal process we took action and called for observatory bodies to be formed and for concurrent steps toward to democratization to be sped up. Since the day that this process began we have always made suggestions to the government, and presented legislative changes. We made suggestions concerning the constitution to the Commission on Constitutional Reform. We – Mr. Öcalan, the KCK and the BDP – have insisted on the politics a democratic solution together with the democratic forces of Turkey, and despite all internal and external provocations we have carried on this process with great determination in order to get pass these blocking points.”

The 16th Meeting With Öcalan Was Very Different

Speaking on the most recent meeting with Öcalan, Buldan said “there have been many serious provocations aimed at derailing the peace process such the Paris, Gezi, Lice and Yüksekova massacres, the Roboski decision, political operations and lynch mobs. All of this took place under the government’s responsibility. It is shame that what has occurred to make solution more difficult has occured while this solution needs to updated with steps toward a solution. Because the government is playing for time with the peace process and had adopted an attitude toward winning votes in the election the new process has not seen any reflection in the democratic, legislative arena. In the place that it is today the peace process confronts many risks. Everyone, and most of all the government, needs to see these risks. The 16th meeting that we had with Mr. Öcalan on February 8th was very different from the other 15 meetings. In the meeting Mr. Öcalan offered a serious assessment and a warning that if meaningful, extensive negotiations do not take place that their ability to contribute to the peace process many disappear.”

The Peace Process Is At A Critical Phase

Buldan, “We want to share with our people, democratic public opinion and Turkish society the developments that have brought the process to this point, as well as the assessment and warning which emerged in our last meeting that the process is now at a critical moment. Let me make this in particular very clear, everyone knows clearly and openly that there is no agreement between Mr. Öcalan and the state and government. Öcalan also expressed this openly and said ‘the process is going forward one-sidedly with our efforts. There is no agreement. For this process to go forward from here project needs to be presented.”

We Are Ready For A Solution and Peace

“What a pity” Buldan continued, “that the most important obstacle to the peace process that has come before us is the the attitude of the government as a political actor. A government which has no obstacles before it to carry out legislative reforms openly wore out the peace process over the course of this year and did not assess it as an opportunity. In this circumstanceö does the government really have the intention to pursue a solution? Implying this question, Mr. Öcalan said ‘We are prepared for a great solution and for peace. As for the government when we consider them we must leave it to them to be ready, do they posses such decisiveness? It is not clear. Within the AKP there is an understanding to let the Kurdish problem continue and our government stay in power. This situation is exacerbating the problem.’

The MPs then spoke in more detail about Öcalan’s suggestions to bring the peace project back on track, which largely revolves around legal guarantees and third-party oversight. They also criticized those organizations which are attempting to derail the peace process and use the Kurdish problem for their own political benefit. Buldan concluded the press conference with a call on Turkish society to pressure the government to support the peace process, saying “Especially democratic public opinion and the entirety of Turkish society must increase the pressure on the government for a solution. Because a solution and peace will be a victory for the whole of Turkey.”