PM urges opposition to join in national unity project
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday called on opposition leaders to support a national unity project, also known as the democratization initiative, with the ultimate aim of reaching a comprehensive resolution to the decades-old so-called Kurdish question or southeastern Anatolia issue through expanding the democratic rights and freedoms of citizens of Kurdish origin. "We want a consensus to be established; those who back the democratic initiative will definitely be welcomed," Erdogan told a press conference before leaving for the US to attend the UN General Assembly. He said an invitation would be extended to main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Deniz Baykal to meet with government officials to discuss the initiative. Calling opposition support for the initiative critical, he said the government wants to exchange views with all sides backing the initiative to give it its final shape before bringing it to Parliament. "Our wish is for all sectors of society to take a risk for a resolution; thus, we want broad participation in the process to find a solution," he said. "We don't want the initiative to be seen as a project of the (ruling Justice and Development) AK Party government. Instead, it is a project of the Republic of Turkey, and all state institutions are in consensus on it. Our hope is that it will be realized through consensus." On current attempts to normalize relations with Armenia, Erdogan said Ankara's relations with Yerevan are a problematic area, adding that the government has been continuing work on the Armenian issue and hopes to be successful. He also touched on problems faced by minorities, saying that the government is working to end these difficulties. Speaking to reporters later in New York, Erdogan said that the parliamentary session on the democratic initiative would not be a closed one, but that everything would be discussed openly.