Turkey won’t tolerate a second Habur, PM says

EKREM DUMANLI
TRIPOLI


Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo?an takes a tour of the streets of Tunis with his delegation.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo?an has said the government’s previous approach to the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) that sought to bring militants back home through peaceful measures as it tried in October 2009 when it allowed some PKK militants to return through the Habur gate on the border with Iraq has come to an end, in a statement that comes on the heels of the release of a recording which revealed that talks were under way between Turkish state officials and PKK representatives.
During a flight from Cairo to Libya on Thursday the prime minister responded to questions on the secret recording documenting a talk between National Intelligence Organization (M?T) officials, including Undersecretary Hakan Fidan, and PKK representatives, apparently held in Oslo some time before 2010. The tape, leaked to the press on Wednesday, has put the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government, which earlier denied that any direct negotiations were going on with terrorists, in a difficult position. The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) have vehemently criticized the government over the tape.
In response to a question on whether he believed the Oslo meeting’s leak would affect Turkey’s ongoing process to end terrorism, Erdo?an answered:

“No, the state will continue to carry out its responsibility. The process won’t be affected. The state will implement the decisions it has taken. The separatist terrorist organization and its political extensions shouldn’t expect the kind of good will on our part that we have shown in the past.”

Erdo?an said he had no guesses about who might have recorded and leaked the conversation, but he didn’t rule out Israel in response to a question on whether that country, whose dislike of Fidan is well known, could be behind the leakage.

“It is well known that some segments have in the past targeted Mr. Fidan. We are investigating how it was leaked. But we won’t just cross Mr. Fidan off over something like this, even though he might have made mistakes. The tape has shown the ill intentions of those that leaked it. No good will come out of this for anyone.”

He also criticized the two opposition parties for using the recording as material for polemics. “I am not at all worried about either K?lçdaro?lu or Bahçeli’s statements. We sent Mr. Fidan … with full confidence to ?mral? [to talk to PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan]. The opposition doesn’t see the distinction between the state and the government. We said we will never talk to ?mral? as the government, but the state has to do its responsibility. Now tell me, how can I possibly work together with the opposition in fighting terror?”

On Oct. 19, 2009 the PKK turned over a group of its members to Turkish authorities at the Habur border gate, which was at the time seen as a groundbreaking move that might have lead to the disarmament of the PKK. However, PKK supporters turned the militant’s return into a major show of power, with massive demonstrations in the Southeast, offending nationalist sentiment in Turkey and also the families of soldiers killed in clashes with the PKK.

Erdo?an said: “The [Habur] approach is over. No one should expect that kind of approach any more.”

The prime minister also commented on a previous statement from Interior Minister ?dris Naim ?ahin that Turkey was planning a cross-border operation into northern Iraq against PKK targets. He said ?ahin’s statement was a slip of the tongue, noting, “Such things aren’t told, they are just done.” He said the Turkish military was continuing large-scale operations both in urban areas and in rural areas against the PKK.

Probe launched into secret meeting tape

In related developments, the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office on Thursday launched an investigation into the recently published voice recording that allegedly revealed secret talks between representatives of the Turkish government and the outlawed PKK.

The meeting, which was allegedly recorded, is believed to be the fifth in a series of secret talks between Turkish intelligence officials and PKK representatives. As identified by his voice, Fidan, the undersecretary of the M?T, attended the fifth session for the first time as a representative of Prime Minister Erdo?an. He was serving as the deputy undersecretary at the Prime Ministry at the time the meeting was believed to have taken place. Afet Güne?, the deputy undersecretary of M?T, represented the Turkish intelligence organization.


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