Tur­key has long been al­ler­gic to the word “Kur­dis­tan”

The Kurdish Globe - - FRONT PAGE -

Turk­ish Deputy PM says Er­do­gan was ‘draw­ing per­spec­tive for fu­ture,’ not­ing that only the ju­di­ciary can look into cases in­volv­ing Kur­dish rebels.

Tur­key, on Mon­day, said it was not con­sid­er­ing a gen­eral amnesty for mem­bers of the Kur­dis­tan Work­ers Party (PKK) as the gov­ern­ment stepped up ef­forts to restart a stalled peace process.

The is­sue came to the fore on Satur­day when Prime Min­is­ter Re­cep Tayyip Er­doğan hinted in Turk­ish Kur­dis­tan that Turk­ish pris­ons would one day be emp­tied.

Er­doğan had wel­comed the Pres­i­dent of the Kur­dis­tan Re­gion of Iraq Mas­soud Barzani, to Tur­key's own Kur­dish-dom­i­nated city of Di­yarbakir at the weekend, in a land­mark trip de­signed to re­vive the peace process be­tween the Kur­dis­tan Work­ers' Party (PKK) and the Turk­ish state.

"We will wit­ness a new Tur­key where those in the moun­tains come down, the pris­ons empty and the 76 mil­lion cit­i­zens of Tur­key be­come united," Er­doğan said in re­marks which some lo­cal me­dia saw as a veiled ref­er­ence to a gen­eral amnesty, one of the PKK’s key de­mands.

But on Mon­day, Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Bu­lent Arinc took is­sue with that in­ter­pre­ta­tion.

"The Prime Min­is­ter's state­ment was very clear," said Arinc af­ter a cab­i­net meet­ing on Mon­day.

"A gen­eral amnesty is not on to­day's agenda," he said.

Arinc also said that Er­doğan was "draw­ing a per­spec­tive for the fu­ture" in his speech, re­fer­ring to US civil rights ac­tivist Martin Luther King's fa­mous "I have a dream” speech.

He added: "It's not us, the gov­ern­ment, that will empty the pris­ons. There is a mat­ter for the Turk­ish ju­di­ciary."

The PKK, branded a ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tion by Tur­key and its Western al­lies, de­clared a cease­fire in March but progress in the peace process has since stalled.

Kur­dish fight­ers sus­pended a promised with­drawal from Turk­ish soil in Septem­ber, ac­cus­ing Ankara of fail­ing to fully de­liver on prom­ises to give the mi­nor­ity group greater rights, in­clud­ing Kur­dish lan­guage ed­u­ca­tion in state schools and a de­gree of re­gional au­ton­omy.

Thou­sands of Kur­dish fight­ers re­main holed up in the Kur­dis­tan Re­gion of Iraq.

Barzani, who is re­spected by Tur­key's Kurds, voiced sup­port for the peace process on Satur­day.

Dur­ing his ad­dress in Barzani's pres­ence, Er­doğan for the first time re­ferred to Iraq's au­ton­o­mous re­gion in the north as "Kur­dis­tan", a word which has long been taboo in Tur­key.

Arinc said it was noth­ing "ex­tra­or­di­nary", adding that Kur­dis­tan was the ter­mi­nol­ogy used in the Iraqi con­sti­tu­tion.

Tur­key has long been al­ler­gic to the word "Kur­dis­tan", pre­fer­ring to re­fer to Iraqi Kur­dis­tan as north­ern Iraq or the Kur­dish re­gional gov­ern­ment for fear that use of the word could in­spire Tur­key's own Kur­dish pop­u­la­tion to seek a home­land.

Arinc did stress, how­ever, that the use of Kur­dis­tan in Tur­key was out of the ques­tion un­der the cur­rent uni­tary struc­ture of the state, and un­der the Turk­ish con­sti­tu­tion.

Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Bu­lent Arinc

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