Opposition insists PM cooperating in secret bargains with PKK

30 April 2013 /TODAY’S ZAMAN, İSTANBUL – Turkey’s two main opposition leaders once again raised their voices in opposition to the settlement initiative, insisting that the prime minister is secretly dealing with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Republican People’s Party (CHP) Chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Chairman Devlet Bahçeli spoke at their party group meetings on Tuesday, commenting on top agenda items, in particular the initiative the government launched to solve the country’s terrorism problem. The Justice and Development Party (AK Party) launched settlement talks with the PKK late last year with the aim of the disarmament and withdrawal of the terrorists. However, the opposition remains critical of the initiative, accusing the government of making bargains or deals with the terrorist organization they are not revealing to the public.

Kılıçdaroğlu said at Tuesday’s meeting that the AK Party and PKK are in cooperation and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is acting under the influence of the terrorist organization. “Erdoğan is the PKK’s captive. Everyone should know this,” he said.

The CHP leader dismissed claims that the majority of the party’s supporters are against peace, saying that 100 percent of CHP supporters want peace. “But first, we should think about how we can achieve peace. Is there democracy in this country? [If not] then there cannot be peace. Can peace be achieved in a country where there is a 10 percent election threshold? More importantly, can there be peace in a country where those ruling the country lie? It is impossible,” Kılıçdaroğlu said, accusing Erdoğan of lying when claiming to have no secret bargain with the PKK.

Erdoğan previously said that PKK should lay its arms down before retreating from Turkey. However, in a recent press conference at which he announced the timeline for the PKK’s withdrawal, the terrorist group’s senior leader Murat Karayılan implied that they won’t withdraw without arms. “Who is telling the truth?” CHP’s Kılıçdaroğlu asked on Tuesday.

The CHP leader also criticized the AK Party’s proposal seeking to amend the law regulating the Court of Accounts in a way that is likely to curb the body’s auditing powers, which is a move seeking to cover up the government’s own corruption, he said.

MHP leader Bahçeli, on the other hand, responded to Erdoğan’s remark that the MHP and CHP have become the “peons” of the Workers’ Party (İP), both a socialist and highly nationalist party whose leader is imprisoned as part of an investigation into a coup-plotting organization. Bahçeli criticized Erdoğan’s remark, saying that Erdoğan has lost control of his speech. The MHP leader also harshly criticized the settlement process, saying that the members of the Wise People Commission established to help with the government with the process should leave the commission for the sake of the country. The commission is merely a “settlement lobby” aiming to make the public accept that the country is heading toward a cliff, according to Bahçeli.

He recalled that Karayılan said jailed PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan should be released in exchange for the PKK’s disarmament. “Mr. Prime Minister, do you call this development peace?” Bahçeli asked. He also argued that nothing is clear about how, through which roads and to where the terrorists will retreat. The opposition leader called for stricter control of the country’s Southeast border.