Turkish Parliament votes on cross-border raids

The Turkish Parliament will vote Wednesday on whether to extend a mandate permitting military action against Kurdish militants in northern Iraq amid mounting opposition criticism of government policies on the Kurdish conflict.

A recon team attached to the special units is seen in this file photo. Hürriyet photo

A recon team attached to the special units is seen in this file photo. Hürriyet photo

The vote will be preceded by a debate on the government motion, which is asking Parliament to authorize another year of cross-border operations against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, in northern Iraq. The current mandate expires Oct. 17.

The motion is expected to be easily approved. The two largest opposition groups, the Republican People’s Party, or CHP, and the Nationalist Movement Party, or MHP, have signaled that they will support the move, leaving the Peace and Democracy Party, or BDP, Turkey’s main Kurdish political movement, as the sole opponent. However, at least two CHP deputies of Kurdish origin, deputy chairman Sezgin Tanrıkulu and Hüseyin Aygün, are expected to withhold support for the motion.

The CHP and the MHP stepped up criticism Tuesday of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s suggestions that talks with the PKK could resume, accusing him of emboldening PKK violence.

MHP chairman Devlet Bahçeli called for an immediate ground operation against PKK hideouts in northern Iraq “to erect the Turkish flag in the Kandil [Mountains] once and for all” in a speech at his party’s first parliamentary group meeting.

Raising the prospect of fresh talks with the PKK at a time of a drastic surge in militant violence amounted to “fragrant disrespect to our nation’s honor,” he said.

CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said talks with the PKK had backfired because Erdoğan’s underlying intention was to “bargain” for a lull in violence ahead of the June 12 elections rather than secure a lasting settlement.

“I would have approved of negotiations [with the PKK] if they had put an end to terrorism [but] such private meetings will further fan terrorism rather than curbing it,” he said.

Ahead of the debate on the motion, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu was scheduled to meet Wednesday with Kılıçdaroğlu to brief him on the issue and other foreign policy topics. The minister is expected to hold similar meetings with the MHP and BDP leaders.

The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the European Union and the United States.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Göksel Bozkurt
ANKARA – Hürriyet Daily News