Gull meets Turkey's opposition parties over parliamentary crisis
Turkish President Abdullah Gul met with leaders from the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) on Friday in an effort to break a stalemate after the party boycotted the parliamentary swearing-in ceremony earlier in the week, dpa reported.
Protest moves by both the BDP and main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) at the barring of eight of their colleagues from taking office set off a political crisis, after nearly a third of the members of the newly elected parliament were either absent or refused to take an oath of office at Tuesday's ceremony.
"The president gave us positive energy, and we believe he is making the greatest effort possible to find a solution," Ahmet Turk was quoted by the semi-official Anatolia Agency as saying after he and Serafettin Elci of the BDP met with Gul on Friday.
"We made it clear that the upcoming period will be more difficult if this crisis is not addressed. The president is aware of this," Turk added.
Gul's efforts to solve the parliamentary crisis are in contrast to the stance taken by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who declared Thursday that Parliament would proceed in its work with or without the opposition.
The BDP, which won 36 out of 550 seats in June 12 elections, took the unprecedented step of boycotting the swearing-in ceremony in the capital Ankara and convening instead in the primarily Kurdish south-eastern city of Diyarbakir, where the party is headquartered.
The move was in protest of a decision by the elections board to strip lawmaker Hatip Dicle of his seat because of a prior conviction for supporting the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).
Dicle's seat was transferred to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) because he, like other BDP deputies, ran as an independent to get around a 10-per-cent electoral threshold.
The BDP also objected to recent court decisions that banned five additional deputies from taking office because of their ongoing detention in a separate case, against the Kurdish Communities Union (KCK), which prosecutors say is the urban wing of the PKK.
Party leaders announced Tuesday that the BDP would continue to hold weekly group meetings in Diyarbakir and that its lawmakers would not enter parliament until their barred colleagues were also free to do so.
Gul, who is backed by the ruling party, has also taken steps to resolve the standoff with the CHP, meeting with party leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu on Thursday to discuss possible solutions.
The CHP, which has 135 seats in parliament, attended the ceremony but refused to take the oath of office, in a symbolic protest after courts ruled not to release two of its members from detention in a high-profile coup trial.
The third opposition party, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), which has 53 seats, participated in the swearing-in ceremony despite one of its own lawmakers also being barred from taking his seat because of an ongoing court case.