Turkish deputy prime minister rules out military solution to Kurdish issue

4 February 2013 /TODAYSZAMAN.COM, İSTANBUL – Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç has ruled out a military solution to the Kurdish issue and vowed that the government will do whatever it takes to end the decades-old conflict.

Arınç criticized the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) for showing little appetite for solving the conflict with the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) that has now left more than 40,000 dead, mostly PKK members. He accused the opposition parties of being trapped in a “time machine,” referring to their cold feet in employing alternative ways to find a solution to the Kurdish problem.

“If these things could have been solved by guns, killings, bombings, then they would have been solved in the early 1990s,” Arınç said, referring to years when government brutally attempted to suppress the PKK terrorists and sympathizers in southeast Turkey. Implying that there needs to be other options in the settlement of the issue, he recalled the capture of jailed leader of the PKK, Abdullah Öcalan, in 1999, and said the conflict would have been solved then if that was the way of solving it.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has led efforts in recent months to end the war with the PKK, which seeks autonomy for the country’s estimated 14 million ethnic Kurds.  

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) has pledged to expand political freedoms and points to Kurdish language rights, greater civilian control of the military and economic liberalization as milestones in its 10-year tenure in office. Arınç reiterated the government’s earlier position and rejected claims that AK Party leaders are holding talks with Öcalan. “Our government is not in the process [of talking to Öcalan]” Arınç said, adding that such a process is bound to a road map for Turkey’s situation today. He said Öcalan is not a direct interlocutor for the Turkish government — a move he said wouldn’t be blessed by the Turkish public. “We used our intelligence organization in this process,” Arınç said. He also criticized “much talk” by different people during the peace process and said “everyone must be silent” at this point of time and back the process.