Turkish parliament becomes battleground for Kurdish peace process

Turkish parliament becomes battleground for Kurdish peace process
# 18 February 2015 21:06 (UTC +04:00)

Baku-APA. A warning from Kurdish militants that negotiations with Turkey could be on the verge of collapse has turned parliament into the key battleground in a peace process meant to end a three-decade insurgency, APA reports quoting Reuters.

The terrorist PKK warned from their base in northern Iraq's Qandil mountains on Tuesday that Turkey must take concrete steps to advance the process, piling on the pressure ahead of a general election in June.

The signs from parliament overnight were not promising.

Punches flew as deputies debated controversial legislation to boost police powers, legislation which the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) - a key player in the peace negotiations - said would legitimize what it called "state terror".

Hopes had been running high that terrorist PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan, jailed on the island of Imrali in the Marmara Sea, would call an end to an insurgency that has killed 40,000 people and stunted development in Turkey.

"The package destroys not just the peace process but all the peace dynamics in society. This is a bid to crush opposition," said Selahattin Demirtas, joint leader of the HDP, whose deputies shuttle between Imrali and Qandil in pursuit of a deal.

Speaking to reporters before the brawl, in which five opposition MPs were hurt, he riled Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu by saying "the government has homework to do" and accusing it of suppressing details of Ocalan's peace plans.

"Nobody can give the government homework," Davutoglu shot back, warning against efforts to block the legislation.

"If they are going to take a filibustering stance, we will not allow parliament to be jammed up and will not bow down to threats," he said during a visit to Pakistan.

President Tayyip Erdogan, who has boosted Kurdish cultural rights in more than a decade in power, began peace talks with Ocalan in 2012, risking nationalist wrath.

Winning a disarmament pledge from the PKK could boost chances that the AK Party he founded wins enough of a majority in the June election to facilitate his plans to change the constitution and create a stronger presidency.

"The government is insisting on getting a guarantee on disarmament so that it can go into the election solidly, saying 'we have stopped the mothers' tears, we are close to peace'," political commentator Cengiz Candar told Reuters.