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Deputy PM Akdoğan: Ankara attack possible political engineering ahead of Nov 1

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Strongly condemning the deadly terrorist attack in Ankara, Deputy PM Akdoğan said the attack targeted peace and stability in the country and he views it as an attempt at political engineering ahead of the Nov. 1 snap elections. ‘Who or which organization is the terror’s hitman, the pawn, the instigator or the planner, they will be revealed and punished’.

Deputy Prime Minister Yalçın Akdoğan said terrorism is a common issue no matter who the perpetrator and who the target, and it must be dealt with equally. Speaking to Daily Sabah as Turkey continues to mourn after the bloodiest terror attack in Turkey’s history on Saturday in the capital Ankara, Akdoğan said as Turkey prepares for the upcoming elections, the attack could viewed as new attempts toward political engineering.

Deputy PM Akdoğan: Ankara attack possible political engineering ahead of Nov 1

Evaluating the PKK’s declared inaction, which took place on the same day as the bomb attack, Akdoğan said while the PKK is currently in a difficult situation due to the defeat it is facing, it is also trying to display an image that would politically benefit the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) prior to the elections.

DS: How do you evaluate this attack being done on the same day as the PKK declaring an inaction agreement?

The PKK must end its actions completely, rather than making strategic statements, and leave Turkey, the PKK will remain a threat until the weapons are buried and until then all necessary actions will be made. While the PKK is currently in a difficult situation due to the defeat it faces, it is also trying to display an image that would politically benefit the HDP prior to the elections. It will impute the terror attacks on the uncontrolled powers and front organizations. It is also known that instructions are given to suicide bombers in metropolises.

DS: How do you evaluate the recent terror attacks that took place in Ankara on Saturday? In your opinion, what was the aim of this attack and who could be the offenders?

Perceiving the recent terror activity in Turkey’s capital Ankara as an attack against a specific group would be misleading. This malicious attack, which was like a massacre, targets the whole of Turkey, as well as our peace and stability. That is why we as a nation as a whole must stand against terror attacks. No focus group, power or organization can turn Turkey away from its great march, we will not allow any action to determine Turkey’s politics or the country’s roadmap. Terror is a tool that is used by both regional or international power groups to determine the direction of domestic and foreign politics. The Justice and Development Party (AK Party) within its 13 years of governing has ended this dirty game, has given strength to democratic politics and allowed the nation’s will to determine the country’s future rather than the will of shady groups. As Turkey prepares for the elections, this attack is viewed as a new attempt toward political engineering. Our citizens must rest assured, we will end their games. Who or which organization is the terror’s hitman, the pawn, the instigator or the planner, they will be revealed and punished with what they deserve. We will not allow any shady structure to conduct an operation on our lands. Terrorism is a common issue no matter who it’s by or against, and it must be dealt with in unity. The government that combats terror must be left alone and should receive support from civil society, political parties, the media and the international community. Those who are unable to demonstrate a national stance on this issue and make irresponsible remarks to agitate the citizens are the ones that lose.

DS: In the AK Party’s manifesto, it is stated that AK Party will maintain its position regarding the reconciliation process. How will it be possible to maintain the position while fighting against terrorism?

This is not an conjectural issue for the AK Party. Since the formation, the party’s vision regarding the reconciliation process has been clearly stated. Democratic improvements and projects for national unity are all due to this vision, which is to be maintained.

However, while we try to maintain our approach, some groups are trying to sabotage the process; therefore, measures need to be taken.

The PKK was to withdraw from Turkey in 2013; yet, this was not realized. They claimed they were inactive; however, they oppressed the people of the region. With the Kobani incidents, it was evident that there was a security problem in the region that had to be resolved in order to maintain the reconciliation process. Again, they said that they would cease all their actions and withdraw from Turkey, which also was not realized. Therefore, the ongoing operations against the terrorist organization is not a cause, it is a consequence.

As the terrorist organization’s approach, actions and discourse renders the process untenable, the operations were necessary. In order to maintain the process, the region’s security must be improved and public order must be established to protect the people’s rights. These operations are what the people of the region demand and need. For this reason, the operations continue; to maintain the process.

As well as the PKK, the HDP also betrayed the reconciliation process right before the elections. They cooperated with certain groups that were against the reconciliation process such as the Gülen Movement, which hindered the process.

Both the PKK and HDP have betrayed the process. Therefore, the government had to take certain measures. If this was not done, Turkey would be in a total chaos, destroying the people’s belief in the state.

Currently, among the terrorist organization, a cease-fire is being discussed. When they start to talk about a cease-fire, it means either the military operations are successful or they are trying to provide a political ground for the HDP. We will not fall for this. On the other hand, the terrorist organization’s proposed inaction does not mean anything, as the operations have to continue in order to free the people of the region from their oppression. Both the PKK and the HDP working towards each other’s benefit; the PKK threatens and oppresses people, helping the HDP to benefit from the situation.

Similarly, the HDP works toward the legitimization and consolidation of the PKK. The HDP paves the way for the PKK, which then threatens and oppresses the people who do not share their views. Therefore, the HDP is not working for the consolidation of democracy in the region. On the contrary, it causes the PKK to put more pressure on the people. This relationship has to be seen. The issue is that they are trying to further both their political movement and terrorist activities.

DS: It is being discussed that with the increasing operations against terrorism, 1990s’ Turkey is reemerging. In addition, a terrorist’s corpse was dragged by a military vehicle last week, which caused strong reactions. How do you evaluate these?

In the 90s, there were unsolved deaths, extrajudicial killings and torture; there is nothing to compare with today’s understanding of military operations, which are done according to the law and aims to protect the people.

The AK Party, during its 13 years in government, has never backed down from the democratic reforms it realized and never will. A disruption in the services or investments to the region is non-existent. Therefore, in my opinion, this statement is false.

While fighting against terrorism, some unacceptable and provocative incidents may occur; dragging the corpse of a terrorist is such. As I have said, Turkey is actualizing its fight against terror according to the law. It is impossible to condone such actions. An investigation was launched right after this incident. On the other hand, hundreds of thousands of security personnel are unselfishly fighting against terrorism and no one has the right to sully the operations. Yet, anyone who disregards the law will face the consequences.

DS: You have said that the fight against terrorism will continue with determination. Yet, it is evident that terrorism cannot be eliminated only by military operations. What is Turkey’s strategy in the fight against terrorism?

We are facing a myriad of issues, all tangled together. Security policies only constitute part of the resolution. Political, economic and cultural reforms are the rest of the resolution. Our efforts in ending the rejection and assimilation policy towards our Kurdish citizens and providing investment to the region are some of these resolutions.

On the other hand, there is a terrorist organization based on ethnic nationalism, which we responded to according to our security policies.

We are closely following how similar issues all around the world have developed and are evolving. Furthermore, Turkey has 30 years of experience on terror. Taking all of these into consideration, we see the issue as multidimensional.I believe we are successful in fighting against terrorism. First of all, the terrorist organization’s attempt to establish independent regions under the guise of democratic autonomy proved unsuccessful, along with their attempts to establish safe zones within the cities.

DS: How do you regard the discussions about election security? After the Supreme Election Board’s (YSK) rejection of the transportation of ballot boxes, do you think that election security in southeastern Anatolia is in jeopardy?

Regarding election security, I believe that we are in a better position than the previous election. The issue is to prevent any pressure on the citizens before they cast a vote, allowing them to vote with their free will.

In the previous election, members of the PKK openly threatened people in the villages and cities to vote for the HDP. Now, our security personnel are in operations against the terrorist organization to prevent these threats and oppression.

Almost 380,000 security personnel will take the required measures for a fair and free election.

The transportation of ballot boxes to certain regions would have been a measure increasing the election security. Therefore, I do not agree with the YSK’s decision. Yet, I believe that the taken measures will hopefully improve the election security.

DS: There are also many criticisms that freedom of the press is getting worse in Turkey. As a former journalist, how do you respond to these criticisms?

There have been intense perception management efforts to put pressure on Turkey over the last few years, discussions ranging from authoritarianism to the freedom of the press. I believe that the parallel structure involvement is significant.

When you compare the pro-government and the anti-government newspapers, it is clear that the sales of anti-government newspapers are higher than their pro-government counterparts. There are many newspapers that have headlines almost insulting the government, while a few have neutral headlines. If you regard these facts, you can understand whether there is pressure on the press or not.

On the other hand, there are newspapers and TV channels that are directly affiliated with terrorist organizations. I wonder whether any EU country would allow such a channel to broadcast. I believe that there aren’t any issues regarding the freedom of the press.

There is a terrorist organization that is at war with the state and its people, but you do not criticize them; instead, you insult the government. This is a warped understanding.

Supporting a terrorist organization and trying to legitimize it is not a part of democracy. However, when we criticize this issue, it should not be understood as a violation of the freedom of the press.

If the West is seeking for data regarding the freedom of the press and intimidation of the media, they can look at the parallel structure’s hundreds of suits against journalists.

DS: The presence of an AK Party deputy during the attack on the Hürriyet daily was heavily criticized. How do you evaluate this situation?

First of all, we can never condone an attack on a newspaper. Countless times we have expressed that we are against any kind of violence. However, it should be clarified that an AK Party deputy has not led the attacks against the said newspaper. He was not present during the attack and he went there afterwards to calm the angry mob.

We also condemned the attack on Ahmet Hakan and stated that violence has no place in democracies. However, when an armed attack against the executive of a media group was actualized and a bomb was found near the newspaper headquarters, no one reacted. This causes the people to question the sincerity of these criticisms. Violence should be criticized no matter what.

On the other hand, we are definitely not trying to silence the press. Remember that media was a tool of the opposition that was used in trying to prevent the AK Party from winning the elections. Therefore, we did not receive any media support during our rise to the government and we do not maintain our position due to the media’s support. However, there is an understanding that owes its existence in its opposition to the government and this should be questioned. While the media had to serve democracy in Turkey, many of the media outlets condoned coups.

DS: What are the latest developments in the fight against the parallel structure? Is this the AK Party’s fight or has it become a fight of the state?

As a country, we have certain national contests. Terrorism, for example, is one of them. However, even in this issue, we see that some of the political parties and media outlets do not stand on the side of democracy. The fight against the parallel structure is a matter of national security and it should be fought in unity. This is not only the AK Party’s issue, but it concerns the whole country. This structure has betrayed Turkey and tried to collapse the state structure. Almost all segments of society were victimized by them. Therefore, we must fight together against this structure.

This parasitic structure has abused the legal system through infiltration and operated against the state. To be successful in our fight against terror, we must simultaneously fight against the Parallel Structure, as they are currently in cooperation.It is important to create an awareness against this structure and the fight against the said structure will continue with determination.

Resource: Daily Sabah, October 11, 2015

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