Gov’t expects PKK retreat to finish before the end of summer


Turkish Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin speaks during a conference at European Parliament. AA photo

Members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) should complete their withdrawal from Turkish soil before the end of summer, Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin said on March 27.

The entire process, which is aimed at ending the three-decade old violence between security forces and the PKK, is being conducted in line with a specific calendar, Ergin said yesterday, underlining that the calendar was known by related parties of the process.

“A cease-fire and withdrawal together constitute a stage which should be completed before the summer ends. I say ‘Before the summer ends;’ anyhow, it will be looked over according to conditions,” Ergin said in an interview with NTV news channel.

“Consequently, our efforts are aimed at dropping this problem from the agenda of Turkey. I hope that we will overcome this problem before the election calendar begins,” Ergin said.

Local elections are scheduled to be held in March 2014 while presidential elections are set to be held in summer 2014. These elections will be followed by parliamentary elections in 2015.

When asked whether PKK militants would keep their arms while withdrawing, Ergin said the PKK militants were not controlled or led by the government.

“Whichever methods they used while entering, probably they will leave the country through those methods,” he said.

Ergin also said there was no need for a legal arrangement concerning the planned wise persons’ commission under Parliament’s roof to deal with the withdrawal of the PKK militants, while also challenging any possible judicial move against the process on the grounds of illegality.

“The wise-people group is a civilian initiative,” he said, suggesting that inserting the group into a legal framework would transform it into an institution devoid of civilian characteristics.

“Will a prosecutor come up and ask, ‘Why are you trying to bring peace to Turkey?’ Will he ask, ‘Why are you exerting efforts to stop bloodshed and tears?’ If this is a crime, then I’m committing this crime here,” Ergin said, when reminded of concerns, particularly from the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP).

Unlike the government, which maintains that there is no need for a legal amendment to secure the retreat of PKK members, the BDP believes that the process still needs to be protected legally due to the risk that a prosecutor could launch judicial action against those leading the talks.

Adopting a legal framework for the sake of the resolution process is a decision that will be left to the government, said Parliamentary Speaker Cemil Çiçek.

“If it feels a need, then the government will of course fulfill whatever is required,” Çiçek said, but noted that the government’s needs may not match with those of others in an apparent reference to opposition parties.



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