ANKARA: Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu promised Friday to invest the equivalent of eight billion euros in Turkey’s Kurdish-dominated southeast, which has been battered by decades of fighting between rebels and the military.
Details of the 10-point plan for restoring security in the region, which has sustained heavy damage since the collapse of a two-year ceasefire last summer, were unveiled by Davutoglu as he visited the southeastern city of Mardin.
“We are going to bind up all the wounds. We who have welcomed two and a half million Syrians are perfectly capable of offering all our help to our fellow citizens,” he said.
His plan involves a budget of 26.5 billion Turkish lira (8.1 billion euros/$9 billion) to revive the area whose economy has been severely affected since the ceasefire collapsed, notably through investment incentives and subsidies to small and medium enterprises and farmers.
The plan also includes a security element for “establishing public order” in the area, he added, without giving further details. Earlier this week, Turkish media had said the plan would involve reinforcing police and army presence in towns deemed “sensitive”.
In his speech, he dismissed any question of “decentralisation”, effectively ruling out the aspirations of Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) which is seeking greater local autonomy.
“All citizens will be included in this plan, except those who carry arms,” he said, dismissing any idea of a resumption of peace talks with rebels from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
In autumn 2012, Ankara engaged in a round of secret peace talks with PKK founder Abdullah Ocalan.
The contacts led to a ceasefire the following year that lasted for more than two years before collapsing last summer.
Ocalan, who was sentenced to death for treason in 1999, had his sentenced commuted to life in prison in 2002 when Turkey abolished capital punishment. He is currently being held at the Imrali prison island in the Sea of Marmara.
“Instead of us gathering around a table in Imrali, we are going to sit down with different actors (in the Kurdish conflict) around a table in Ankara,” he told Turkish reporters accompanying him as he flew back from London on Thursday.
Turkey is currently pressing a major “anti-terror operation” in the southeast aimed at flushing out PKK rebels, with military operations backed by curfews in an offensive that Kurdish activists say has killed dozens of civilians.
The PKK launched an insurgency against the Turkish state in 1984, initially fighting for Kurdish independence although it now presses more for greater autonomy and rights for the country’s largest ethnic minority.
Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2016
Courtesy : BRecorder