Future of settlement process unclear as AK Party regains majority

After the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) won an unexpected landslide election on Sunday, the future of settlement process that was abruptly stopped in July after the AK Party lost its 13-year single-party majority remains uncertain.
With all the ballots counted early on Monday, the preliminary results showed the AK Party winning more than 49 percent of the vote. It is projected to get 317 seats in the 550-member Parliament, restoring the partyand’s governance of Turkey for the foreseeable future.
However one of the biggest uncertainties remains regarding the future of the settlement process launched by the government and imprisoned Kurdistan Workersand’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah andOcalan to settle the countryand’s long-standing terrorism problem.
andOmer andcelik, the spokesperson for the AK Party, said in a press conference on Monday the AK Party is willing to take the settlement process and”out of the freezerand” if the PKK is willing to and”bury its weapons.and”
and”When public order is fully restored, the frozen issue will be on the agenda again,and” he said, adding the AK Party is and”not taking seriously any calls to reinstate the settlement processand” before public order is reinstated.
However on Tuesday, a 22-year-old was killed during clashes between security forces and the youth wing of the PKK after a curfew was declared in three neighborhoods of the Silvan district of Diyarbakir.
Also a military statement on Tuesday said Turkish jets hit PKK shelters, underground bunkers and weapon emplacements in six locations in northern Iraq, including Kandil Mountains, where the PKK leadership is based. The military strikes suggest there will be no let-up in the military campaign against the PKK in the wake of Sundayand’s vote.
h2 HDP spokesperson: AK Party not acting sincerely or consistentlyh2 Ayhan Bilgen, the spokesperson for the pro-Kurdish Peoplesand’ Democratic Party (HDP), rebuffed andcelikand’s statement on Tuesday, telling Todayand’s Zaman the AK Party is not acting in a sincere or consistent manner.
and”A new page can be opened in the settlement process if the search for a new constitution is not sacrificed to the desire for a presidential system,and” he said, referring to President Recep Tayyip Erdoganand’s desire to switch from the current parliamentary system to a presidential governing system.
Bilgen said the AK Party claims it will not seek revenge in the new term but the ongoing detention of magazine editors and municipal mayors demonstrates otherwise. and”This shows the sincerity and consistency of the messages after the election.and”
In July President Recep Tayyip Erdogan dismissed the settlement process and urged Parliament to strip politicians with links to andquotterrorist groupsandquot of their immunity from prosecution, referring to the HDP, which is known to have ties with the PKK.
Erdogan had said, and”It is impossible to continue the peace process with Kurdish militants.and” His comments came days after the air force bombed PKK camps in northern Iraq after the separatist group ended a frail cease-fire set up in 2013.
On July 22 the PKK assassinated two police officers in retaliation for the stateand’s failure to prevent a suspected Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militant detonating a suicide bomb in ianliurfaand’s Suruandc district and killing 34, injuring over 100.
A total of 40,000 people have been killed in clashes with the PKK since 1984, when the Marxist-Leninist-inspired group launched its first attacks. The PKK is designated as a terrorist organization by the US, the European Union and Turkey.
In a historic speech delivered 10 years ago in mainly Kurdish-populated Diyarbakir, then-prime minister Erdogan referred the Kurdish issue and pledged that his party would seek to resolve the issue through democratic means.
and”The Kurdish issue is the issue of the entire Turkish nation. This is why, to those who ask andlsquowhat will happen to the Kurdish problem?and’ I say that as the prime minister of this country, that problem is my problem before anyone elseand” he said before a roaring crowd in Diyarbakir in 2005.
The government then set up the and”Kurdish Opening,and” which was prematurely ended after the so-called Habur incident in September 2009, when the euphoria of Kurds welcoming a 34-person delegation consisting of eight PKK members and 26 refugees from the PKKand’s Makhmour camp entering Turkey prompted harsh reaction from the public.
The Kurdish opening was later renamed the and”Democratic Openingand” and the and”Settlement Processand” and has also been called and”The National Oneness and Brotherhood Projectand” by AK Party officials.
However, in a sharp deviation from his remarks in 2005 and the settlement process that was ongoing at the time, Erdogan said in March Turkey never had a Kurdish problem, noting Kurds enjoy the same rights and everything else enjoyed by Turks.
and”My brothers, there has never been any problem called the Kurdish issue in this country. Yet, there are intentional efforts to keep this on the agenda. andhellip We ended it [the problem] in a speech I made in Diyarbakir in 2005, and that is it,and” he proclaimed.
and”My Kurdish citizens could have problems. They could have problems just like the problems of Turkish citizens. Thirty-six ethnic groups in the country have their own problems. There is constant talk about the Kurdish problem,and” Erdogan continued.
Before the June 7 election, Erdogan began using rhetoric undermine the settlement process as in March when he said Turkey did not have a Kurdish issue, contrary to his previous statements.
Some Kurds say that by reviving open conflict with the PKK, Erdogan was seeking to undermine support for the opposition pro-Kurdish HDP ahead of a possible early election and stoke up nationalist sentiment, a theory the results on Sunday seem to support.


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