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News Analysis: Banned PKK pressures Turkish gov't for concessions

English.news.cn   2014-06-02 05:26:40

ANKARA, June 1 (Xinhua) -- Road blockades, kidnappings, and attacks on Turkish army units by the outlawed Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK) are some of the militant group's latest attempts to tip the scales in their favor ahead of Turkey's presidential elections, experts said.

"The PKK is raising the stakes in order to extract more concessions from the government before crucial elections in August, " Idris Gursoy, a political analyst in Ankara, told Xinhua.

"The PKK will not escalate this into a full blown conflict but will continue to harass the security forces to pressure the government into giving its demands," he added.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan previously authorized settlement talks with the PKK in late 2012 in an effort to end 30 years of conflict that has plagued Turkey's southeastern region, but his government is now under fire by the opposition for not responding to PKK attacks and threats.

Atilla Sandikli, president of the Wise Men Center for Strategic Studies, an Istanbul-based think tank, said the government cannot risk failing the settlement process, as it represents one of the very few issues that attracts votes.

"The settlement process is (one of the ways) the prime minister can present himself as successful to the society, (but) he remains silent to the presence of the PKK in the mountains and cities," he said.

On Saturday three Turkish soldiers were wounded by PKK militants, one critically, when trying to remove a road block on a highway near the town of Lice in Diyarbakir province in southeast Turkey.

Last week, the PKK allegedly fired at an army helicopter in Diyabakir province, shortly before the group kidnapped two specialist sergeants in east Turkey and wounded nine members of the Turkish Armed Forces in another province.

"The prime minister has to ignore the attacks by the PKK, because otherwise the PKK would re-engage in bloody attacks in the region," said Yusuf Halacoglu, deputy chairman of the parliamentary group of the Nationalist Movement Party.

The settlement process somewhat stalled last September when the PKK announced that it stopped withdrawing PKK rebels from Turkey, a primary condition of the negotiations. The government package of reforms has so far fallen short of satisfying the armed group's expectations.

The PKK demands include autonomy in Turkey's southeast and the right to education in the Kurdish language, among others. It has been listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.

OUTCRY OVER CHILD SOLDIERS

Another pressing issue is that the PKK has abducted hundreds of Kurdish children, some of whom just 15 or 16 years old, as recruits. The government has estimated that the number of abductions was 331.

That led to outrage among Kurds. More than 70 families took part in the sit-in protest against the PKK in front of the Diyarbakir Municipality building last week.

The opposition criticized Erdogan for not reflecting strongly on the abduction issue. Haluk Koc, deputy chairman and spokesman of the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), claimed that the government "is bowing before the PKK."

Late CHP Istanbul Deputy Ferit Mevlut Aslanoglu used to say that Erdogan is courting supporters of the People's Democratic Party, the political wing for the PKK. "Erdogan is overlooking actions of the PKK because he badly needs (to get elected), in ( presidential) elections."

Erdogan's ruling Justice and Development Party received 45 percent of votes in the local elections held at the end of March. He needs to obtain fifty percent of votes to get elected as president in the presidential elections in August, if he decides to run as a candidate.

Editor: Mu Xuequan
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