Gov't to proceed with Kurdish settlement process despite tensions

Prime Minister Erdogan also said the conflict has brought nothing but pain, blood and tears to this nation and to the Kurds in particular, for years.

Gov't to proceed with Kurdish settlement process despite tensions

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has vowed to continue the ongoing settlement process aimed at resolving Turkey's decades-old Kurdish issue despite tensions that have flared in southeastern Turkey recently, but insisted that his government will not yield to pressure from the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) to stop construction of new military outposts and dams in the region.

“Those who want to sabotage this process, spoil this atmosphere in the country can never get rid of the responsibility, the black stain and pangs of remorse [that their actions will lead to]. We set our hearts on the process. We risked our lives for this process. No sabotage or provocation can deter us from this blessed journey and seeking a solution,” Erdoğan said.

The prime minister's remarks came at his party's parliamentary group meeting on Tuesday.

Erdoğan said his government sees the future of Turkey in the resolution of the Kurdish issue and the nation does not want to see clashes any longer, but rather wants calm and peace.

“Those fomenting tension, violence and chaos will have betrayed both to this process and the nation. We will not make any concessions or give up our principles. We will not overstep the law or hurt the memory of our martyrs, but we will continue to do our best in order to reach a happy ending,” he said.

The prime minister also said the conflict has brought nothing but pain, blood and tears to this nation and to the Kurds in particular, for years.

“We have to save all of our citizens from the sorrow,” he said in further remarks.

One person died and nine others were wounded last Friday when clashes broke out between security forces and protesters opposing the construction of a new gendarmerie outpost in the village of Kayacık in Diyarbakır's Lice district. The outpost would be a high-security center called a “kalekol” in Turkish, which locals say are associated with the torture of area residents for many years.

The incident appears to be the most violent in the region since a cease-fire declaration by the imprisoned leader of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), Abdullah Öcalan, in March that led to a virtual standstill in the conflict between the PKK and the Turkish state.

Eighteen-year-old Medeni Yıldırım was killed during the shooting. There were also claims by wounded protesters that they were shot from behind by gendarmerie officials. Shortly after the event, a special sergeant was abducted, most likely by the PKK.

The incidents in Lice have worried many due to the prospect of them halting the settlement process, which the government launched last year in order to end the conflict with the PKK that has resulted in the deaths of at least 40,000 people.

In a bid to resolve the country's decades-old conflict, at the end of last year the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government renewed negotiations with PKK head Abdullah Öcalan, who is incarcerated in prison on İmralı Island in the Sea of Marmara.

Critics of the government have blamed gendarmerie violence for the incidents, but pro-government newspapers said the real reason behind the recent incidents in Lice was an increase in the number of operations against local marijuana fields. The Diyarbakır Governor's Office issued a similar statement on Sunday.

Erdoğan, who spoke about the incidents in Lice for the first time on Tuesday, made similar remarks and said the motive behind the incidents was the uneasiness of drug dealers in the region over the settlement process.

“The Lice incident is not an ordinary one. What is behind the Lice incident is cannabis. The construction of a military outpost [as the reason for the protest] is all a story,” Erdoğan said.

Noting that the government will continue to construct high-security outposts in the region, Erdoğan added that the government will not seek anyone's permission on this issue.

“We are removing many military outposts but keep in mind that we have to construct safer outposts. Why? For the security of our country. We do not need to ask permission from political parties or some organizations for this, do we?” he asked.

Erdoğan also said there is a discomfort among some groups in the region about the construction of dams as well as outposts and this is because they feel their interests are at risk.

“Dams are being constructed for the welfare and peace of the region's people. Schools, hospitals and airports are constructed with this aim. Where does the allergy to these outposts, dams, schools and airports come from? If those who were uneasy about these construction projects during the times of terror maintain the same stance, this is strange. Could there be other things involved?” he asked.

The BDP claims that the construction of military outposts and dams for security reasons worries the region's people and hence, places the future of the settlement process at risk. The party also says the government can spend the money allocated to these high-budget projects on other means of developing the region.


Güncelleme Tarihi: 03 Temmuz 2013, 09:53