“They (DTP officials) say, ‘The prime minister does not meet with us.’ And what I tell them is to recognize the PKK as a terrorist organization just like the rest of the world,” Erdogan said in an interview with private channel NTV on Thursday. 

“Once you (the DTP) declare it as a terrorist organization, you will see that these sort of meetings [with the government] will be based on a very different ground,” the prime minister added. “I say it very openly. But they fail in doing this. To the contrary, they have started to defend them. This, of course, makes the situation more difficult.”

The DTP, which is often criticized for not denouncing PKK terrorism, has been seeking an opportunity to meet with Erdogan, who said he was ready for such an appointment, but had to postpone due to the PKK’s attacks against the military. “Such a meeting is still on my agenda,” he said, but asked DTP co-chairman Ahmet Turk to change his rhetoric on the matter.

“For example, he (Turk) calls on two parties to lay down their weapons,” Erdogan said. “What does it mean? Do the legitimate security forces lay down their weapons? Can something like that happen? What they have to do is to call on the terrorists to lay down their weapons.”

There was an optimistic atmosphere about the possibility for a solution to the Kurdish question following several statements by President Abdullah Gul about a “historic opportunity” to move forward on the issue. The PKK has recently extended a truce until mid-July.


During the same interview Erdogan also said Turkey wants the International Monetary Fund, or IMF, to decide “by the end of summer” whether it will soften conditions for a new loan to Turkey.

The fund should make clear by then whether an agreement is possible on Turkey’s terms, said Erdogan. “We’re expecting to clear this up, either positive or negative, without excessive delay,” he said.

Talks between Turkey and the fund on a new accord, which started more than a year ago, have faltered as Turkey rejected IMF demands for spending cuts and measures to make the tax collection agency independent of political control. IMF loans would help support the lira and reduce the government’s need to borrow to finance a widening budget deficit.

The government cannot agree to make the tax agency autonomous, Erdogan said, adding that Turkey is ready to take steps to make revenue collection more efficient. He also said Turkey can survive the global recession without IMF money.

The comments come a week before IMF First Deputy Managing Director John Lipsky is due to visit Turkey and meet Economy Minister Ali Babacan.

The government is preparing plans for a future “with or without” IMF assistance, Babacan said on June 8.

Turkey’s first recession in seven years has reduced tax revenue just as the government increases expenditure to combat rising unemployment.

In the first four months of 2009, the overall budget deficit rose to 20.1 billion liras, double the original goal for the whole of the year. The government announced a revised target of 48 billion liras on April 13.

IMF lending would help Turkey to manage its borrowing to fund that deficit, Deutsche Bank economist Cem Akyurek wrote in a report yesterday. Still, convincing Erdogan that IMF demands are in Turkey’s interests is “enormously challenging,” he wrote.

11 Haziran 2009 Hurriyet Daily News