Tone of Öcalan’s message matches spirit of the process, says PM’s adviser Akdoğan

ISTANBUL – 22.3.2013 – Hürriyet – The tone of the message from the jailed leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Abdullah Öcalan, read during a Nevruz meeting in Diyarbakır March 21 matched the spirit of the ongoing peace process and heeds sensitivities, the chief adviser to the Turkish prime minister said during a live interview on private broadcaster CNNTürk.

“It’s an approach that takes into account the different segments of society,” said Yalçın Akdoğan. He also added that there were other important messages besides the silencing of guns and withdrawal of militants in Öcalan’s message.

“First of all, there is the message that the era of armed struggle has come to an end and the struggle must continue through democratic means. I find this very important. Secondly, never before had such emphasis on unity and fraternity been made. [The PKK] disliked emphasis on a common history, a common civilization and a common religion. Öcalan has changed the paradigm today and broke with the rhetoric,” he said. The jailed PKK leader’s message came amid an ongoing peace process initiated by the Turkish government to end the three-decade-old conflict with the outlawed group. “We are at a point today that guns will be silenced and thoughts will speak. It is time for armed elements to move outside [Turkey’s] borders,” read the message, conveyed in front of hundreds of thousands of people gathered in Diyarbakır.

Akdoğan also repeated the same caution expressed by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan after the message was conveyed. “We have to wait and see what sort of positions the PKK’s other fragments will adopt,” he said. “The message contains the spirit of a call [to lay down arms]. But the current stage is the need of an end to conflict and withdrawal from Turkey. These two steps are very important, and they have to be put in practice first.”

Akdoğan rejected criticism from the opposition toward the government for engaging in talks with the PKK leader. “There are very different fragments in Kandil [the PKK’s headquarters in northern Iraq]. There is one person that nobody can influence from outside, and that is Öcalan.” Akdoğan added that the context was much more favorable than the Oslo talks a few years ago. He argued that the PKK had adopted a strategy of “talks and weapons” during the previous process, which made it fail. “Öcalan saw that if there are attacks he will be left out of the circuit. Kandil had buried Öcalan on İmralı island,” he said, adding that forces that “don’t want a solution” such as Ergenekon had become more inactive.