Opposition parties stay out of parliamentary settlement commission
CHP parliamentary group Deputy Chairman Akif Hamzaçebi speaks during a press conference in Parliament. (Photo: AA, Cem Öksüz)
The main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) and the opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) have announced that they will not take part in a parliamentary commission the ruling party plans to establish to advance the ongoing settlement process to solve the Kurdish conflict.
Justice and Development Party (AK Party) parliamentary group deputy chairman Nurettin Canikli revealed on Wednesday that his party would soon submit a proposal to the Parliament Speaker's Office suggesting the establishment of a commission for the solution process.
Canikli has also called on other political parties -- the MHP, the CHP and the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) -- to participate in setting up such a commission. He said the proposal concerning the commission will be submitted to Parliament within the next two days. However, the CHP and the MHP announced on Thursday that they will not nominate members to the commission. The CHP claimed that the establishment of such a commission is against the Constitution and parliamentary bylaws.
CHP parliamentary group deputy chairman Akif Hamzaçebi said on Wednesday evening: “This commission is in violation of the Constitution and the Parliament Charter. The CHP will not be part of a commission that is not allowed by the charter.”
MHP parliamentary group deputy chairman Oktay Vural said his party was against the establishment of a parliamentary commission on the settlement process and that his party will not appoint members to the commission.
Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ described their refusal to participate in the commission as a “very wrong attitude.”
Meanwhile, the BDP announced that it will be submitting a petition for the creation of a truth and reconciliation commission, separately from the commission the AK Party is trying to set up.
The deputy chairman of the BDP parliamentary group, İdris Baluken, expressed disappointment with the CHP's announcement. He told a news agency on Friday: “We want the CHP to reconsider its current stance and participate in this [commission].” He said, however, the MHP's refusal to join the commission was no surprise for his party.
The CHP's Hamzaçebi said the CHP agreed that any settlement should take place under the roof of Parliament, and that it had offered the establishment of a reconciliation commission to oversee the Kurdish conflict resolutions. However, he said, the government party wants to set up a research commission. “Research commissions are established to generate knowledge about social issues. But the government commission has suggested a commission to evaluate the process. It is against the Parliament Charter and Constitution to set up a commission to research something that will happen in the future.” He said the government's proposition is not legally viable.
The MHP's Vural said the government was trying to find political solutions “instead of fighting the PKK [Kurdistan Workers' Party] terrorist organization.” He said the government was keeping to itself what happened during previous negotiations that took place in 2011 in Oslo -- which were held behind closed doors at the time. “Only the prime minister has information about the protocols of the Oslo talks, except for the bits that were publicly exposed.” He accused the government of being transparent about the Oslo process.
He also criticized the Wise Men Commission -- announced by the government on Wednesday -- for comprising individuals from outside Parliament who are pro-government.
The Wise Men group, made up of 62 public opinion leaders, academics and artists, was also criticized by the Association of the Families of Martyrs. The president of the association, Mustafa Yorulmaz, said people who lost sons in clashes with the PKK were concerned about the process. He said the government should give an assurance that PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan will never be pardoned, and that there will not be changes to the administrative system of Turkey.
But Ahmet Taş, who heads the Kayseri branch of the Association of Human Rights and Solidarity for Oppressed Peoples (MAZLUM-DER), in a statement released on Thursday, said his organization supports the commission. “We are really hopeful now that we have seen that the people on the wise men list are representative of different segments of society.”
CHP Deputy Chairman Gürsel Tekin criticized the list, saying some of the individuals on the commission were divisive characters rather than unifying figures.
President Abdullah Gül, who was posed a question about the wise men on Thursday during a visit to several Baltic nations, said: “It is a very technical thing. I don't want to say anything at this point, as it only causes polemical rows.”
AK Party Deputy Chairman Hüseyin Çelik said in response to criticism: "Of course wise people in Turkey are not limited to 63 people. This is just a sample. Some might not agree they are wise, while others do."
Science and Technology Minister Nihat Ergün made a clarification, saying the wise men are not people who have any special authority, noting that they will only be explaining and communicating the peace talks to the public.
The commission, which is structured on the basis of Turkey's seven geographic regions, will conduct talks with locals in every region to garner support for the settlement process.
The AK Party government has been having talks with the terrorist PKK and the pro-Kurdish BDP to find a settlement to the country's decades-long Kurdish issue. National Intelligence Organization (MİT) officers and the imprisoned leader of the PKK, Öcalan, have been negotiating on İmralı Island since October of last year, with the government saying the primary purpose of the talks is disarming the PKK.
The PKK took up arms in 1984, and Turkey has lost as many as 50,000 people in its fight against the terrorist group. The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the EU and the US.
MHP claims MİT behind sex cassette operation
During his criticism of the government Justice and Development Party's (AK Party) newly formed Wise Men Commission, Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Deputy Chairman Oktay Vural said that a sex tape scandal that cost some MHP executives their posts in 2011 was the work of the government.
Addressing the government, Vural asked, “Didn't you [Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan] order the National Intelligence Organization's [MİT] Hakan Fidan to find something on the MHP?”
The MHP in 2011 had to cope with the release of sex videos involving its politicians. On May 21, 2011, MHP Deputy Chairmen Mehmet Ekici, Osman Çakır, Ümit Şafak and Ahmet Deniz Bölükbaşı, MHP Secretary-General Cihan Paçacı and MHP Presidency Council member Mehmet Taytak resigned from their positions and withdrew their candidacy for the post of deputy in the June elections of that year. Also in May, four other MHP politicians -- Recai Yıldırım, Metin Çobanoğlu, Bülent Didinmez and İhsan Barutçu -- resigned from their posts after the release of video clips that showed them having sex with women. TODAY'S ZAMAN, İSTANBUL