The BDP co-chair said the process to solve the decades-long Kurdish problem would continue for three to five years

No problem in PKK pullout: BDP – DEMIRTAS

ANKARA – Hürriyet Daily News – 23.5.2013 – There are no problems or obstructions regarding the withdrawal of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) from Turkish soil to northern Iraq, Selahattin Demirtaş, co-chair of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), has said.

“Both sides are being careful not to make provocations that would lead to a clash,” Demirtaş told reporters in Parliament yesterday, referring to the Turkish security forces and PKK militants.

“We have received no notice of problems from our sources in the countryside. The withdrawal has been ongoing for 12 days, but we do not have an exact number of the PKK militants who have left the country.”

The PKK militants are leaving Turkey on orders from Abdullah Öcalan, the PKK’s jailed leader, who sent his orders through letters delivered by BDP MPs who visited him. Demirtaş said another visit to İmralı island, where Öcalan is serving his life sentence, might take place in 15-20 days. The BDP co-chair said the process to solve the decades-long Kurdish problem would continue for three to five years but that the government should act fast to do some “road cleaning.” “What is urgent is the democratization of laws,” said Demirtaş. “The special authority courts, the terror law, the election threshold, the treasury aid given to political parties should all be discussed.”

A reform package of 10-15 articles will satisfy the urgent need, he added. The BDP has long criticized the 10 percent threshold that was bypassed by the party in the last two elections by submitting independent candidates. It has also opposed the terror law and the special authority courts, which the party considers the main reasons for the arrest of hundreds of its members in the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) probes.

“If we have a ‘road cleaning,’ Turkey will have a deep breath,” the BDP co-chair said. “The process could even last five years, as long as there are no more deaths. The path to democratic struggle should be kept open, let such a struggle continue for 30 years.”

A constitutional package might follow the urgent reforms, Demirtaş said. “If we can have a charter package by the beginning of 2014, we can have a referendum on the proposals before the elections. We should not miss this opportunity,” he said. Demirtaş said the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) should drop its offer of a presidential system in the new charter. “The AKP says they will not insist on it; then withdraw it,” he said. “We do not say ‘yes’ to the system they offer, but we see no problem in discussing it. But if the AKP withdraws it, this will end the needless discussions.”