PM urges consistency in party statements on Kurdish problem

Thursday, July 23 2009 @ 04:39 am UTC

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan warned his deputies from southeastern Anatolia not to make statements that will harm the government’s “coherent” policy on the Kurdish problem.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan warned his deputies from southeastern Anatolia not to make statements that will harm the government’s “coherent” policy on the Kurdish problem.

“Everyone can speak in a democratic country. I have nothing to say about that, but I personally don’t welcome my party’s deputies to make statements that will spoil the [party’s] unity [on the Kurdish problem],” Erdoğan told reporters on Wednesday before departing for Syria.

“We must act consistently,” he added.

His remarks came in response to questions from the press about some remarks from Justice and Development Party, or AKP, deputies.

AKP Diyarbakır deputy İhsan Arslan’s “Algerian model” proposal to eradicate the Kurdish problem has created controversy. Opposition parties objected to the plan, while the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party, or DTP, approached it cautiously.

Following the civil war in Algeria in the 1990s and the killing of over 150,000 people, all the parties, including both the military and civilians, came together around a single table in early 2000. Several solution models were discussed at commissions, and finally a proposed solution was taken to referendum, which was accepted by 97 percent of the public.

In an interview with daily Akşam over the weekend, Arslan, subjected to an investigation because of his remarks that Abdullah Öcalan, imprisoned leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, should be accepted as interlocutor, said Turkey was at a critical juncture on the Kurdish problem. Among his recommendations were providing surrendered terrorists with employment, helping the families of the terrorists who were killed in clashes, and giving optional Kurdish courses at schools.

In response to questions on the Kurdish problem, Erdoğan said: “This is a matter that we’ve been dealing with since we came to power… I will not speak about its name or title. No matter if you call it the ‘Kurdish problem,’ ‘Southeast problem,’ or ‘Kurdish opening’ we have initiated a study.”

He referred to his 2005 visit to the southeastern Anatolian province of Diyarbakır in 2005 when he first acknowledged the “Kurdish problem.”

“We have made some progress. Of course, we politicians are not in a situation to publicize every detail or every meeting we hold. What we have done is obvious,” he said, referring to the government’s steps to launch Kurdish television and radio programs and open Kurdish language and literature departments at universities.

The prime minister said all government institutions would be coordinated under the leadership of the Interior Ministry as discussed at the latest National Security Council, or MGK, meeting and that talks would be held with the deputies from southeastern Anatolia. He went on to say that the ideas following those meetings would be collected and then the government would have the final say and disclose it to the public.

He warned against certain circles attempting to divert the government's efforts and separate the country.

"Surely we cannot allow this," he said.

Erdoğan reiterated that the problem should be tackled in harmony under the roof of the Turkish Republic. “Otherwise that would be unfortunate for the country,” he warned.

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