1700 GMT: BDP's co-chairman Selahattin Demirtas announced his party's programme that is to start in the U.S. today. According to the official plan, the BDP commission will see Kubat Talabani, KRG's representative in Washington before meeting with Turkey's ambassador Namik Tan. The committee is also expected to meet with Assistant Secretary of State Philip Gordon, some senators and congressmen, San Fransisco Mayor Ed Lee and American Bar Association's Center for Human Rights.
1555 GMT: BDP's MP Emine Ayna blamed Premier Erdogan for the deaths. Ayna said: "Erdogan has his own signature behind the deaths either of guerillas or of soldiers."
1540 GMT: Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) President Massoud Barzani claimed that he raised the agreement of F-16 jets sale to Baghdad during his recent visit to Washington. Barzani said:
The F-16 must not reach the hand of this man. We must either prevent him from having these weapons, or if he has them, he should not stay in his position.
1400 GMT: Ankara's ambassador Yunus Demirer was summoned by Iraqi officials following an exchange of complaints and accusations between Prime Minister Erdogan and his Iraqi counterpart Nuri al-Maliki.
1200 GMT: In response to Prime Minister Erdogan's calls on the putlawed PKK to lay down arms, Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK)'s leader Murat Karayilan said that "this call has no other meaning than those pursued policies of disbanding and surrounding guerrilas and the Movement."
With regards to Kurds' status in Syria, Karayilan said that the only way of building a democratic and free Syria goes through defending and accepting the autonomy of Kurds.
1125 GMT: After 15 died due to hunger strikes staged in Strasbourg in its 52th day, the Council of Europe promised Kurdish protestors to investigate the 'conditions of the isolation' of Abdullah Ocalan. Protestors said that they were successful.
1100 GMT: The Hürriyet Daily News claims that Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu vetoed Israel's participation in a key NATO summit hat will take place in Chicago on May 20 and 21 despite of other Western allies' calls.
During the NATO foreign ministers’ meeting in Brussels on April 18, Davutoglu was criticized for carrying bilateral problems to the NATO platform. However, Davutoglu reportedly blamed his partners around the table for being silent over Israel's killing Turkish citizens in international waters and said that Israel couldn't participate unless they issued a formal apology and paid compensation for those killed on the Mavi Marmara.
It is added that this is the second time Ankara has blocked West Jerusalem's attempts. Israel wanted to open an office at the NATO headquarters and participate in the activities of the Mediterranean Dialogue group.
1030 GMT: Turkey is celebrating National Sovereignty and Children's Day. Ceremonies are being held at foreign representative offices, including the controversial territories of northern Cyprus.
Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has tried to deal with the Kurdish issue through the highly controversial approach of pre-emptive strikes against cells of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), sidelining any leaders of the armed wing, while opening the door to talks with the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP).
The AKP is also grounding its Kurdish policy in regional strategies. Following the return of the leader of the Kurdistan Regional Government, Massoud Barzani, from Washington --- featuring rhetoric against Iraq’s Prime Minister Maliki and Syria’s President Assad --- Erbil’s soft power has been the new center of attraction for Ankara. Boosting relations with Iraq's Kurds would not only promise leverage amid the tensions in the country, it would provide back-up when dealing with the status of the Kurds of Syria. Barzani’s calls on Turkey's insurgent PKK to lay down arms also offers legtimacy to the Erdogan Government's "anti-terror policy" amid the supposed inaction of the opposition BDP.
Ahead of Barzani’s visit to Ankara, the co-chairman of BDP, Selahattin Demirtas, said that there could be no solution only based on the Iraqi politician, even if Barzani wanted to become the “Kurds’ common leader for Turkey and Washington”, Demirtas continued:
They want to contact with whole Kurds through Barzani. He is a good politician, a regional leader, managed to make his region a federal one with successful policies and is taking it to an independence process yet the same does not match for the Kurds of Turkey, Iran and Syria. Kurds do feel the same sensitivity for Talabani [Iraq’s President] and Ocalan [the imprisoned leader of PKK]. Taking one of these leaders forward as an alternative and attempting to solve the problems through him does have no response/meaning by Turkey’s Kurds.
Two days later, on arrival in Ankara. Barzani said:
You won't get anywhere with weapons. The PKK should lay down its arms. I will not let the PKK prevail in northern Iraq. If the PKK goes ahead with weapons, it will bear the consequences. We will go ahead with our efforts for a peaceful solution. We want to make every kind of contribution for a solution to the issue through peaceful methods.
All Turkish media outlets highlighted this call and some even thought that Barzani can wield a hammer on the PKK if the latter does not disarm. That is an illusion: Barzani's strength is in the soft power of his declartions, and he will not dynamite political stability now by targeting the PKK, especially as he hopes to hold a conference for all Kurds of the region. His was a rhetorical for political order, especially looking towards Syrian Kurds, and he satisfied the Turkish public by calling on PKK to lay down arms for the so-called dialogue.
Meanwhile, Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki harshly criticized Ankara, saying that Turkey is becoming an enemy state in the region:
The latest statements of (Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip) Erdoğan are another return to the process of interfering in Iraqi internal affairs and it confirms that Mr. Erdoğan is still living the illusion of regional hegemony.
The developments in Iraq are not good signs, especially the current prime minister's behaviour towards his coalition partners. His self-centered ways... are seriously disturbing Shi'ite groups, Barzani and Iraqi groups.
Maliki's attitude cannot damage our relations with our Iraqi brothers.