ANKARA – Hürriyet Daily News
Despite their countless refusals to meet, the ruling party has decided to approach the opposition parties in the coming weeks to inform them about the motives behind its initiative to resolve the Kurdish issue.
“We attach great importance to any sort of meetings and participation [with other parties]. We share our thoughts with whoever has something to say about this issue,” Interior Minister Beşir Atalay told reporters late Tuesday following a long meeting led by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. “We believe this is the only way to make this initiative successful. We have the same intentions with all other parties.”
In addition to Atalay, deputy prime ministers Bülent Arınç and Ali Babacan, Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin, EU Minister Egemen Bağış and other members of the party brass were present at the meeting.
The Justice and Development Party, or AKP, government is also planning to open its Kurdish initiative up for debate in Parliament after Oct. 1. It is expected to be a closed session, but the final decision has not been made yet.
Following the AKP’s previous calls for a meeting with the opposition, the social democrat party seems to have softened its stance. Mustafa Özyürek, secretary-general of the main opposition Republican People’s Party, or CHP, said, “A meeting could be possible on the conditions that the ruling party respects the red lines of the CHP.”
The CHP said it does not oppose Kurds being allowed to enjoy their cultural rights but opposes any request that could change the unitary structure of Turkey. It says Kurdish could be taught at special schools but should not be allowed to become an official language. The Nationalist Movement Party, or MHP, however, has said it would never be a part of the government’s plans, which it believes could result in the division of Turkey.
In a written statement issued Wednesday, Devlet Bahçeli, leader of the MHP, slammed the government for its plans to bring the issue to the Parliament during a closed session. “The political representatives of the PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party) will be present at the closed session and therefore Imrali (the island where Abdullah Öcalan, imprisoned leader of the PKK serves his lifetime sentence) and Kandil (a mountain in northern Iraq where the PKK’s camps are located) will be informed about what is discussed but the Turkish people will be left in the dark. It’s not defendable or understandable,” he said.
Participants in the meeting also worked on a timetable for the government’s Kurdish move, Atalay said, without elaborating further.