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March 25, 2012, Sunday

Turkey’s new anti-terrorism strategy

Turkey has been discussing the government’s new counterterrorism strategy since last week, when details of it began to emerge.

According to this strategy, the state will not negotiate with the jailed leader of the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Abdullah Öcalan, but will instead only hold talks with the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) in Parliament as part of its efforts to resolve the country’s long-standing Kurdish problem. The new strategy has mostly received approval from Turkish commentators.

Milliyet’s Fikret Bila is supportive of the government’s new counterterrorism strategy and says that, as Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan clearly mentioned, the government will not have any talks with Öcalan but with the BDP if the BDP can act independently, free from the control of Öcalan and the PKK leadership in Kandil. According to Bila, the PKK’s abuse of talks with the state held earlier played a big role in Ankara’s decision to adopt such a roadmap. “Leaking the contents of the talks with the PKK in Olso in 2010 to the media and the PKK’s continued attacks prompted Erdoğan to make new decisions,” he says.

Star’s Elif Çakır also supports the government’s new counterterrorism strategy, while also voicing her criticism of the critics of this strategy who liken it to the anti-terrorism strategy of the 1990s when the state pursued a very harsh policy against the Kurds. Çakır says she finds it very important that the state will engage in more dialogue with Kurds as part of the new strategy, that the PKK-Kurdish Communities Union (KCK)-BDP threat facing Kurds will be eliminated, that the state will side with the Kurds and political solutions, and that alternatives to the PKK will be offered. Çakır suggests that those who criticize the government’s new counterterrorism strategy should divert some of their criticisms to the BDP and the PKK as well.

Bugün’s Ahmet Taşgetiren is against the discussion of the Kurdish problem between the government and the BDP as he thinks that if a solution is to be found, this process should involve all of Parliament. “I mean that Diyarbakır will not make its own decision and İstanbul its own. Both Diyarbakır and İstanbul will have a say in each other’s decisions. If the Kurdish problem, or the problem of any other ethnic or religious group, is to be discussed, all the parties in Parliament will voice their views on the issue. Who knows, perhaps the Justice and Development Party [AK Party] or the Republican People’s Party [CHP] will make sounder proposals than the BDP on the solution of the Kurdish problem,” suggests Taşgetiren.

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