29 September 2012 / TODAY’S ZAMAN WITH REUTERS, İSTANBUL – Voice recordings that revealed secret talks between Turkish intelligence officials and members of the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Oslo, in 2010, were leaked to the media by the PKK, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said during a TV interview on Thursday.
An almost 50-minute-long voice recording from the secret talks between the government and PKK members in Oslo was revealed to the media in September 2011, which sparked debates across Turkey at the time.
In response to the question “Who leaked the minutes of the Oslo talks to the media at that time?” Erdoğan, who responded to journalists’ questions during a live interview with Turkey’s NTV news channel on Thursday, said that research conducted by the government indicates that these secret documents were leaked to the media by the PKK and that these recordings of the Oslo talks were revealed by certain media outlets at that time. “If Turkey’s intelligence agency had held secret talks with the PKK, it was not right to leak these talks as documents. An official signature must be present on any documentation. There is nothing approved by me on the documents. If there is no approval on the documentation, it cannot be considered valid. However, some took these documents and set immediately to make assessments on them. Where did they get these documents from? Of course, from the media! The media never acted honestly in that regard,” Erdoğan noted.
Turkish intelligence officials have had contact with senior figures from the PKK in the past few years to try to end a conflict that has claimed more than 40,000 lives, but talks have broken down. Those contacts included secret talks thought to have been held in 2010 in Oslo, Norway between intelligence officials and PKK negotiators, as well as meetings on the small island of İmralı, where PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan is serving a life sentence.
Turkish government can hold talks with PKK or Öcalan again if necessary. In response to a question as to whether Turkey plans new talks with the PKK or Öcalan again, Erdoğan said Turkey’s intelligence agency can hold talks with anybody to completely resolve the terror issue in the country, adding these persons might also be PKK officials.
Erdoğan also said: “We have taken these steps in Oslo and İmralı before … and we will take the same steps again when we deem them necessary,” adding, “The timing of such a move is very important, but we are not prejudiced against such an act,”
Erdoğan’s comments came after Turkey’s main pro-Kurdish party, the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), called for the resumption of talks between the state and the PKK to prevent a further escalation of violence.
About the call from the BDP, Erdoğan discussed how the Turkish government could hold talks with persons who have very strong ties with the terrorist organization, recalling much-contested video footage showing BDP officials embracing terrorists that was revealed to the media last month. Stating that the government had welcomed the request from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) to hold talks to seek solutions to the terror issue before, Erdoğan said the situation with BDP is not the same.
“Why would we talk to people who have close relations with the terrorist organization? In one of my interviews, I had said the government would fight the PKK and would negotiate with its political extension. However, I don’t think the same way anymore. You see nine BDP deputies are embracing terrorists in the footage; they kiss each other on the cheek. The same people seek negotiation with us on the other hand. How can it be possible? How can I talk to a co-president who kisses terrorists on the cheek [referring to BDP co-chairperson Gülten Kışanak who is seen kissing a terrorist on cheek in the footage]. What will the mothers of soldiers who were killed in PKK attacks think of me when they see me sitting at the same desk with those people? Sorry, but tears in a martyr’s eyes are much more precious than all those people,” Erdoğan noted.