Edited version, 9.01.12
KCK Executive Council President Murat Karayılan talked to ANF reporters Deniz Kendal and Rosida Mardin about the recent meeting with the leader of the Kurdish people, Abdullah Öcalan, on Imrali Island. Stressing the importance of monitoring the initiative carefully, he said, “the initiative launched for dialogue is both an important and an accurate approach.”
Karayılan said that meetings have been taking place with Öcalan since November, and he continued, “of course the visit of Ahmet Turk and Ayla Akat to Imrali showed the significance of these meetings.” This is a new dimension and we are aware of its importance. However, we will find out in the coming days whether these meetings and the renewed dialogue will turn into a process that leads to a resolution of the Kurdish issue or not. The present period may be described as a consultative one, but we need more data to assess the process. The attitude of the AKP government is especially important in this regard. In terms of whether the process of dialogue will be turned into resolution process or not, the government’s attitude will be absolutely decisive.
Karayılan listed the practical steps for the development of a process for resolution: “The first step that needs to be undertaken in this context is to create an opportunity for freedom of movement. For sure, this is already a crucial requirement in order to move the process forward. There is a great need for seriousness and responsibility. If they, instead of tackling the resolution of Kurdish issue, again develop policies aimed at the dissolution of the PKK by producing some delaying tactics as they did in the past, it will be unfortunate. Once again, political manoeuvring that obstructs and provokes must be avoided.”
WHAT RESOLUTION PROPOSAL?
Karayılan explained that, as is well known by the public, there has been a series talks since 1993; the last one involving systematic meetings took place both in Imrali and Oslo over a period of three years. He continued, “the main reason for not getting any result out of these talks, mainly out of the last Oslo and Imrali negotiations, is the fact that the required attitude and conditions for the resolution of Kurdish issue had not been formed in both the state and government, which have also not taken any precise and clear decision regarding the issue and have not formulated any proposal for resolution. This is the main reason why the Oslo and Imrali talks have remained inconclusive.
“If the state and government has decided to resolve Turkey’s most important issue, they first of all need to take a practical step and put forawrd a resolution proposal. In other words, if they want to resolve the issue, how will they, and what is the proposal they wish to put forward? Without putting forward such a project, neither a rational debate, dialogue, nor a basis for negotiation can be established, and neither can a strategy for resolution be developed. There is constant talk of an integrated strategy but no one explains what it is. I mean what kind of resolutions to the Kurdish issue are the Turkish state considering? We, as the Kurdish side, want to know this as much as the public does.
WE HAVE PROPOSALS FOR A RESOLUTION AND THE STATE HAS NONE
“Our leadership has submitted protocols to the Turkish delegation to be presented to the Prime Minister as a result of discussions in Imrali on 5 May 2011. As the Kurdish side, these protocols are our resolution proposals. There is also “Road Map” prepared by our leadership. I mean we have our project. The Turkish side also needs to disclose, bring forward theirs. This is essential for the resolution. Without this, preconditions such as “ weapons must be laid down” will not get anywhere. Nobody is armed for fun or for enjoyment. There is a reason for the esxistance of such armed forces.
“However, a process can be developed in parallel with certain steps to be taken to solve the Kurdish issue. These are the things that can be done step by step on the basis of a road map […]
TURKEY WANTS TO REMOVE OUR ARMED FORCES FROM THE COUNTRY, NOT TO LAY DOWN ARMS
“At this point, I would like to make it clear that Turkish side does not want us to lay our guns down. They might explain it to the press like that; I cannot say anything about this. But it is not what is wanted from us. I want to emphasize; both during Oslo-Imrali process and now, what is wanted from us is not laying down the guns but removal of the armed forces beyond the borders of Turkey. Then to where should we move? To South Kurdistan. They bombard South Kurdistan every day. We already have some forces over there. If we move all the forces from the North, that will mean we are all gathered at the same place. What security does this give us? They say to us “make an exceptional decision and withdraw your forces as you did in 1999. The Prime Minister and the government are determined this time. They will also step up.” This is nice but they should take their initial steps right now. Why they do not take any steps right now? How we can trust the discourse developed in a persistent manner “first the forces should be moved beyond the borders, then we shall take steps”? What is the assurance of such a discourse? This is a serious issue. For example, they say, in this regard, “we will take the necessary measures to avoid what happened in 1999.” I mean they say “we will provide opportunity and will not let them make any operation while you switch your forces from Black Sea, Dersim, Bingol, Erzurum, Kars to the South.” If you are so determined to resolve this issue, here you are, you can take the first steps. For other matters, we can make a schedule.
TO START THE DIALOGUE WITH ÖCALAN IS A CRUCIAL STEP
“First of all, to start the dialogue with Leader Apo is a very crucial and necessary step. This is because Leader Apo has been adopted as the leader of this movement, which we define as the Kurdish National Movement and all its other illegal and legal components. But they should be careful to say, “we met and the resolution will come.” No, meeting is the first step towards a resolution. This is accurate. But there are steps that also need to be taken by you. In this regard, the first step that could be is alleviating the isolation of the leader in Imrali. In order to move the process forward, this is certainly a must.
WE SHOULD BE GIVEN THE OPPORTUNITY TO FREE MOVEMENT
It is not easy to discuss disarming the PKK. The forces will only be persuaded to do so if the state is consistent. As long as the leadership is under total isolation, you cannot persuade a single person. In this matter, first of all, the position of the leadership should be changed and the opportunity for him to move freely should be provided. Being able to meet with those members of the BDP is of course very significant.
This is necessary for the political movement to discuss and agree on necessary action. However, discussions with the armed force are a necessary part of this. We need to have a direct dialogue with the leadership and the entire movement, including its armed cadres. Therefore, if the state and government is really sincere about a resolution, they first of all need to pave the way for the Leadership. As our Leadership says, “If there is a pool in which there is no water, and you tell me to swim, how will I swim?” This is exactly the case. If they talk about our Leadership as a major player, which is true, then you need to open the way for him. The first step in this context can be formulated in the form of development of opportunities for freedom of movement.
STEPS MUST BE LINKED TO CONSTITUTIONAL GUARANTEES
“The second issue is that if a project happens and a negotiation process enters into the agenda based on this project, then the things that must be done and steps that need to be taken should be practised by all parties on the basis of a timetable. It is clear that the Kurdish problem is a constitutional matter. Since the redrawing of the constitution is on the agenda, then proposals for a resolution should be reflected to the constitution too, and in this way the basis of the social consensus must be rebuilt through a steady-radical resolution. It would be important to include the existence of the Kurdish people in the new constitution and pave the way for a resolution within the perspective of democratic nation.
“So an approach that reflects the framework, which I have drawn, has not yet been revealed. There are just meetings. I hope that some clarifications in this direction will be developed in the next few days. We are waiting for that. So in the case of a clear, sincere and honest approach developing; and in this regard a concrete, visible and a clear framework for resolution is put forward; this process can then be called a project for resolution.
“In addition, the view of our Leadership on this matter and the common framework that has been outlined, and again the framework of the discussions between our Leader and the next BDP delegation are important to us. When the state proclaims that it wants to resolve the issue without taking any concrete practical steps, and makes requests for us to abandon our positions or imposes demands to weaken us strategically, this will lead to very serious doubts in our society, public and our line position. These doubts are still predominant. We do not want to make too early a remark on this, but it seems that “instead of using politics to resolve the Kurdish issue, there are signs of an attempt to deactivate, weaken and dissolve Kurdish Freedom Forces. And by doing so, including them to their own resolution line by force.”
THEY SHALL SPEAK UP FOR A SOLUTION PROPOSAL ON BEHALF OF THE STATE
“For this purpose, Turkey’s Prime Minister Erdogan tells us, “either you will accept our one nation, one state, one nation motto, meaning that you will accept Turkification and surrender, or else leave. Go to wherever you want. And if you don’t go, you will be doomed to remain in your caves, we will find and destroy you over there too“. This statement of Erdogan is, in essence, one way of expressing this concept. Nobody here is a child. If not (and they will immediately say “this is not the case” and that this assessment is exaggerated and false), on behalf of the State of the Republic of Turkey, Prime Minister Erdogan should say, in front of world public opinion, that “we will not use violence anymore to solve the Kurdish problem, we will not take violence and destruction as the base. We are putting front the resolution through the methods of dialogue to solve the problem” just as I said. If they declare this openly in public, then we will understand that they are approaching the issue seriously and sincerely, and thus a climate of trust would begin to build.
“Once again, I would like to invite everyone to bring sincerity and seriousness to this issue; go ahead if you are serious, do not spoil it if you are not. Nobody would pull out their forces and redirect them into a trap, without a step from their opponent’s side. Imposing this on us, and later on when a deadlock happens, claiming, “look the PKK has not taken any steps” should not be allowed to happen. Because everything is crystal clear.
THE DIALOGUE AND NEGOTIATION PROCESS MUST BE OPEN TO THE PUBLIC
“We are in favour of the dialogue and negotiation process being open to the public. If they come to it, we welcome it and we want it. During the previous Imrali-Oslo meetings, we were told that “these are going to be closed discussions, nobody will ever repeat anything publicly, as doing so would sabotage the process, the results will be relayed to the public by the parties only if a conclusion is reached.” The mediator/friend group specifically put this on the agenda as a strict rule. Since we are an organized power, we have strictly obeyed this rule in an organized and disciplined manner and never ever discussed it with anyone, not even to our own structure. Even though we have adhered to the promise we gave since the beginning, a well-known group from the other party deciphered these meetings and made them public.
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC, DEMOCRATIC AUTONOMY FOR KURDISTAN, IS PART OF THE RESOLUTION
We lean towards a democratic resolution only when we are in a strong position. After all, we are committed to the notion of a Democratic Republic and Democratic Autonomy for Kurdistan within the current borders of Turkey. This perspective is still the official proposal for a resolution from our movement today. Yes, sometimes there can be different pursuits. If the state were to shut everything off and commit massacres, that would naturally lead us to different pursuits. This is an option. But the point we still stand on is the point to solve the Kurdish problem within Turkey’s borders.
IF THE STATE WERE TO MAKE SERIOUS PROPOSALS, WE WOULD RESPOND
We will insist on this point. So if the state really offered serious proposals and began to take a step in that direction, we would not leave the call unanswered. But there is no indication that the state is making such proposals. What this appears to be is more like a proposal to weaken and disable the Freedom Movement. Today, the PKK is a key actor in the region. The possibility that these talks are simply a manoeuvre to remove the PKK from its role as an actor in the region is a highly likely scenario.
If a sign or a SIGNAL towards the resolution actually appears, we would develop policies accordingly for a permanent solution. But until such time, we will continue with our present policies. Everyone should know this, all our friends, all our people, should be aware of it.