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Turkey Live Coverage (7 May): Kurds and Syrians At The Top of The Agenda

1825 GMT: Two PKK members were killed by Turkish forces in the province of Siirt.

1700 GMT: According to some experts, the new election results in Armenia, Greece and France have pros and cons for Turkey

As Socialist leader François Hollande wins in France, Paris is expected to have a different approach than Sarkozy's on Turkey's EU accession process. However, as Galatasaray University's professor Beril Dedeoglu says, his expectations on democratization, human rights and transparency of Turkey will be higher. In case of strong opposition from Ankara, the bilateral relations are likely to be damaged.

In Greece, many experts do not expect another friction since the economic crisis is likely to be at the top of the agenda. And, in Armenia, the current status quo in relations is likely to be preserved since Sarkasyan won the elections again. 

1620 GMT: Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag says the Presidential system shall be discussed during the new constitution making process.

1500 GMT: Prime Minister Erdogan is in Slovenia. He is scheduled to meet with his counterpart Janez Jansa. Having praised the bilateral trade volume of 2011 that reached to $966 million, thanked Slovenia for supporting Turkey's EU membership process. Erdogan talked about Ankara's relationship with Paris and about the Armenian genocide/massacre. He said:

French President Sarkozy and Germany's Merkel have prevented Turkey from joining the European Union. We swallowed this too but took up our own position very clearly.

This issue [the Armenian genocide/massacre] belongs to historians. We said that we are opening our state archives. There are over one million documents now. With commissions they can research. If we need to face with our history, we will. They haven't responded to our proposal. They escaped from the table. We hope that this will not be the same in the new period. God willing, we think that 'Turkey cannot be a member unless it solves its Armenian problem' sentence is not mentioned. 

1330 GMT: Hamit Coşkun and Adem Özköse, who have been missing in Syria since March, seem to be healthy. The first footage was released this morning. 

1120 GMT: Speaking to Italy's Corriere della Serra, Premier Erdogan said:

The Assad regime is over. If a state applies pressure on its own people, assults them with tanks and artilleries and hundreds of thousands of people flee from the country, where is justice here? We have a 900km-border line with Syria. We had always good friendship relations. However, Assad did not show respect to our trust. When things started to change in Tunisia, we warned him. We told him to take the right path, to let political parties come into existence, to pave the way for freedom and to release political prisoners. However, the situation is very critical now. We have been patient so far but if the government keeps doing mistakes, then, this will be the case of NATO as the 5th article is being mentioned. Assad has not kept any promises he gave to Annan. Murders are continuing. The Security Council must approach more seriously to the incidents. EU cannot stay as observers anymore. Am I thinking a military operation? Well, this is not just Turkey's matter. The Security Council and the Arab League must put concrete steps.

1030 GMT: In response to Ankara's 'new anti-terror strategy' (no negotiations until arms laid down, active military operations in the absence of negotiations and legal cases against urban structures of 'terrorists') which is going hand in hand with its Arbil-oriented political investment, PKK's Cemil Bayik said that BDP cannot negotiate with the government when there are thousands of Kurds in prisons. 

As analyst Cevdet Askin says, PKK does not want to see any weakness around while it is strengthening the political and militia campaigns against the government. Moreover, it is also shielding the political ground of BDP by bringing Kandil forward at the public level. 

Erdogan’s Speech on Syria

Visiting a refugee camp on Sunday in Kilis province, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said:

Until the will of the people comes to power in Syria, we will continue to defend the rights of our brothers coming from there, and to host and embrace them. 

Your suffering is ours. Bashar [al-Assad] is losing support with every passing day. Your victory is close. … Never lose hope. … We are always with you. I also believe that God is with you too.

The Kurdish Problem 

Speaking on a political TV programme, the co-chairman of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), Selahattin Demirtas called for an end to the ban on the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). While underlining the importance of a unified Turkey, Demirtas asserted: “I am saying clearly that none of PKK members in mountains shall surrender. Until a solution found, they shall neither make an operation nor surrender.” 

Responding to the BDP 's call on its deputies to use their bodies as human shields against the army’s operations, Prime Minister Erdogan criticised the opposition party as "‘conscienceless": “They stand as human shields against soldiers, police officers. If you have that much consciousness, courage and willingness, why don’t you stand against the terror and terrorists?”

With the Prime Minister of the Kurdish Regional Government, Nechirvan Barzani, expected to visit Ankara soon, PKK’s leader Cemil Bayik put out two important messages. He said first that the PKK is not against the independence of Kurds in northern Iraq, but he stressed that Kurds would have greater advantages if they used their power in the process of democratisation. That is a polite message to Erbil that the dimensions of the Kurdish problem inside Turkey and the leadership’s priorities and solutions could be different.

Bayik then turnd his message to Ankara. He said that lifting the reservations to the European Charter of Local Self-Government and abolishing the obstacles to education in Kurdish are significant, while adding that there is no objection to the Turkish flag, to republican governance, to the capital, and to Turkish as the official language. All of that indicated that the PKK will heeds the new Constitution as a platform for negotiations. 

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