Kurdish initiative a state project, emphasizes minister

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Interior Minister Beşir Atalay has said the government’s new Kurdish initiative — a general term to refer to new Kurdish policies announced in late July and based on a model unique to the country’s own history and current conditions — is a long-term state project.

During a meeting with Felicity Party (SP) leader Numan Kurtulmuş yesterday as part of his tour of political parties and civil society organizations to discuss the Kurdish initiative, Atalay said, “The only party to this project of the state is our nation.”

The interior minister met with SP leader Kurtulmuş yesterday. Speaking after the meeting, Atalay said they used the opportunity to talk about the details of the democratic initiative. He also said work on the package would accelerate once the rounds of talks and meetings with civil society leaders and politicians was over. However, the government will continue to listen to the opinions and suggestions of political party and civil society representatives in the later stages, he noted.

Justice and Development Party (AK Party) parliamentary group chairman Bekir Bozdağ and AK Party Deputy Chairman Abdülkadir Aksu accompanied Atalay during the visit.

He said the Kurdish question was ultimately going to be solved in Parliament. He also responded to a question on the possible restoration of Kurdish place names as part of the package. “The Interior Ministry is continuing work on demands being made in that regard,” he said, noting, however, that there has been no demand for a collective name-change project.

Speaking after the meeting, SP leader Kurtulmuş noted that his party is the third-largest party in southeastern Anatolia, having garnered 10 percent of the vote in the region. He also said his party is ready to offer its sincere contributions for a solution and added that during the meeting, a comprehensive report on the Kurdish question prepared by the SP was submitted to the minister. Kurtulmuş told reporters, “For a solution to the problem, the terrorist organization should lay down its arms unconditionally and the state should end its routine operations.” He also criticized opponents of the plan, saying it was not understandable why some political parties were using the issue for political gain.

He said constitutional and legal reform was necessary for a definite and ultimate solution, adding that the mothers of both Turkish soldiers and terrorists killed in the Southeast wanted to see an end to the bloodshed.

Kurtulmuş also said his party will organize a press conference in Diyarbakır on Aug. 20 to give details about the SP’s views regarding the Kurdish question.

He also said the SP saw the Kurdish initiative as part of a larger democratization initiative. “The question is not one of Kurds, Alevis, the religious or non-Muslim minorities; rather, it is the beginning of a political and legal reform process through a more civilian and democratic constitution drafted by individuals voted in by the nation.”

“Everybody should be very careful to not fall into the trap of circles that wish to see the process fail,” he warned. Kurtulmuş said there are currently great expectations regarding the solution of “Turkey’s most important problem.”

“As the third-largest party in the region, we are ready to lend every kind of support. We have prepared a report titled ‘Voluntary Togetherness for Peace and Brotherhood.’ No one should try to water down the process or sabotage it by creating unnecessary tension. Let’s find the solution within ourselves, not because someone else wants it,” he said, adding that the problem was not only a Kurdish question but one that concerns everyone in the country.

MÜSİAD meeting

Atalay also met with Independent Industrialists and Businessmen’s Association (MÜSİAD) President Ömer Cihad Vardan yesterday. Vardan said his organization supports the Kurdish initiative so long as “red lines” — boundaries that limit the extent to which Turkey would be ready to compromise from its unitary form of government — are not crossed.

Vardan and a delegation of MÜSİAD members visited the minister yesterday in the capital. The association’s president said they shared their opinions with the minister on the democratic initiative. “MÜSAİD supports all initiatives so long as our red lines are adhered to.” Democratization is always necessary, he said, noting that it has helped Turkey attain its economic goals more quickly.

Meeting with journalists

Also yesterday afternoon, Atalay came together with journalists at a meeting regarded as a continuation of an earlier get-together on Aug. 1 to hear the opinions of Turkey’s news media. Speaking ahead of the meeting, held at the İstanbul Commerce University, Atalay said he was visiting upon an invitation. “I’m hear to listen; the floor is yours,” he said.

Journalists present included Emre Aköz, Nevzat Çiçek and Mahmut Övür from the Sabah daily; Murat Belge from the Taraf daily; Mehmet Metiner from the Star daily; Nuray Mert from Hürriyet; Avni Özgürel from Radikal; İbrahim Karagül from Yeni Şafak; Abdurrahman Dilipak from Vakit; and Soli Özel from Habertürk.

The details of the meeting were not immediately available.

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