The prime minister's chief adviser, Yalçın Akdoğan, said in remarks to Today's Zaman on Sunday that terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) commander Murat Karayılan was "lacking grounds" in making claims about the leaking of the Oslo talks and the Uludere tragedy in 2011.
When speaking to journalists last week, Karayılan stated that details from the secret Oslo talks between Turkish intelligence officials and members of the terrorist PKK in 2011 were leaked to the press by the religious Hizmet movement, which is inspired by well-respected Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen. He further argued that the US was behind the death of 34 Kurdish civilians killed near the Iraqi border in the town of Uludere, Şırnak province, in an airstrike by Turkish jets in December 2011.
The PKK commander's remarks followed a press conference he called in northern Iraq on April 25 to announce the terrorist group's decision to withdraw its terrorists from Turkey as part of talks between Turkish state authorities and the jailed leader of the PKK, Abdullah Öcalan, aimed at disarming the terrorist group. During the conference, Karayılan said the PKK would begin withdrawing from Turkey on May 8.
According to Akdoğan, Karayılan's remarks are nothing more than “empty talk.” “We are not supposed to take all of his words seriously and think about them. If he knows anything [about the Oslo talks and the Uludere tragedy], then he should put it forward with sources. I previously said he had misunderstood the settlement process [referring to ongoing talks between the Turkish state and Öcalan] when he said the terrorist PKK would lay down its arms after normalization had been achieved. It is obvious that we should not pay heed to groundless talks on such serious issues,” the adviser stated.
At the end of last year, the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government launched negotiations with PKK chief Öcalan, who is incarcerated on İmralı Island in the Marmara Sea. In the past few months, Öcalan, who despite his 14 years in prison still wields enormous clout over PKK terrorists as well as millions of nationalist Kurds in Turkey, called on PKK terrorists to lay down their weapons and leave Turkey.
The talks with Öcalan aimed to end terrorism in the country are not the first of their kind. Turkish state authorities launched secret talks with some PKK commanders in Europe in 2010, but the talks were ended when their details were leaked to the media.
An almost 50-minute voice recording from the secret talks was revealed to the media in September of 2011, which sparked debates across Turkey at the time. The talks were held some time in 2010, after Hakan Fidan was appointed the new undersecretary of the National Intelligence Organization (MİT), replacing Emre Taner. The existence and content of the secret talks were revealed by anonymous sources, which temporarily ended the talks. At the time, the leaking incident was interpreted as an attempt to influence public opinion against the government, which was trying to employ new methods to peacefully resolve the Kurdish question, which has existed since the first years of the Turkish republic.
The leaked talks first appeared in the DİHA publications on Sept. 13, 2011, with a headline that read “The real face of talks will finish [Prime Minister Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan off.” The report immediately appeared in some news sources affiliated with the PKK, including the Fırat News Agency (ANF) and they were removed three hours after they were published. DİHA later claimed that the report was removed by an “outside power.”
Akdoğan also said the talks between the state and Öcalan aimed to end Turkey's decades-old terrorism problem has already brought in an atmosphere of “normalization” to the country, and people have begun talking about improved tourism investments and other financial activities. “Steps are being taken for democratization and this will bring about normalization. Issues related to the conditions of members of the terrorist group will be brought to the agenda [for discussion] after they lay down their arms. What shall we talk about with those members who still hold their weapons? They should initially lay down their arms and other steps to conclude the normalization process will come afterwards,” he added.
Öcalan's lawyer: Oslo talks leaked by PKK
İrfan Dündar, the lawyer for PKK leader Öcalan, has stated that the Oslo talks had been leaked by PKK administrator Mustafa Karasu as he testified to prosecutors as part of the investigation into the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK), an umbrella organization that encompasses the PKK.
Prosecutors included Dündar's testimony into an indictment against the KCK. According to the testimony, Dündar claims that the talks were leaked to the press by Karasu. “Voice recordings from the [Oslo] talks were leaked to the press. As far as I know, the leaking incident was carried out by Mustafa Karasu,” reads Dündar's testimony.
Dündar also claimed that PKK senior member Sabri Ok, who was in charge of PKK's activities in prisons, has links to the Ergenekon terrorist network. “Ok rose to a high position in the PKK after having completed his compulsory military service [in Turkey]. He was appointed as the responsible man for the activities of PKK in Europe. He was protected by Öcalan's men. I remember Öcalan as referring to Ok as his representative in Turkey. I believe that Ok has links to Ergenekon,” he stated.
Ergenekon is a clandestine criminal network accused of working to overthrow the government. Dozens of its members, including journalists, businessmen and members of the military, are currently held in prison pending trial.