News / Europe

Hopes Grow in Turkey for Peace With Kurdish Rebels

PKK fighters stand guard during the release of eight Turkish prisoners in the northern Iraqi city of Dohuk, March 13, 2013. (Reuters)PKK fighters stand guard during the release of eight Turkish prisoners in the northern Iraqi city of Dohuk, March 13, 2013. (Reuters)
x
PKK fighters stand guard during the release of eight Turkish prisoners in the northern Iraqi city of Dohuk, March 13, 2013. (Reuters)
PKK fighters stand guard during the release of eight Turkish prisoners in the northern Iraqi city of Dohuk, March 13, 2013. (Reuters)
Dorian Jones
Kurdish leaders say further steps could be taken soon to support the peace process that would end fighting by the Kurdish rebel group the PKK. The move follows the release this week of eight Turkish hostages held by the group. Though there is growing hope that the decades-long conflict could end soon, but obstacles still remain.
 
The release on Wednesday of eight Turkish hostages held by the PKK was described by one Turkish newspaper as "the first fruits of peace efforts" to resolve the decades long conflict between the Kurdish rebel group and the Turkish state.

Political scientist Cengiz Aktar of Istanbul’s Bahcesehir University said the releases are significant.
 
"It’s a positive gesture by the Kurds, it was very well received by public opinion, by the government, and everybody expects that will give way to more positive moves," said Aktar.

In an unprecedented move last October, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan initiated talks with the imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan. Observers say the move is  politically risky for Erdogan because Ocalan is such a divisive figure among much of the Turkish public.  

More than 40,000 people have died since the PKK took up arms in 1984 for greater Kurdish rights and autonomy. Both the European Union and United States designate the PKK as a terrorist organization.

Co-leader of the pro Kurdish Peace Democracy Party, Gultan Kisanak, said celebrations next week for the Kurdish new year Nowruz could see further steps towards peace by the PKK.

"The public is focused on the magical word of 'cease-fire.' I can say that if there is a call [from Ocalan on Nowruz] it will certainly mean more than just a cease-fire, she said.
      
Kisanak called on the government to turn the talks with Ocalan into formal peace negotiations. But the Turkish prime minister has ruled this out until the PKK withdraws and disarms its estimated 3000 fighters in Turkey.

Kadri Gursel is a political columnist for the daily Milliyet. He warns that a unilateral move by the PKK is unlikely.

"The disarmament or withdrawal of the PKK armed groups from Turkish territory is a strategic step, the key factor for a political solution. I don’t think that the PKK could be so trustful or naïve to take these steps, before government provides or offers necessary guarantees or establish sound mechanism to negotiate a peaceful settlement to Kurdish question," said Gursel.

But the PKK has another bargaining chip. Erdogan wants to turn Turkey into a presidential system, ahead of his expected decision to stand in next year’s elections. But the prime minister needs the support of another parliamentary party to change the constitution and none support him.

The pro Kurdish Peace Democracy Party's Kisanak said they are open to discussion.

"We believe in a strong parliamentary system, but we are open to discussing a presidential system. There are examples of strong presidential systems, which are democratic," she said.

The complexities of resolving the decades-long conflict have resulted in numerous peace efforts ending in failure. Observers point out, though, that there appears to be much stronger support this time from both Kurdish and Turkish public opinion.

You May Like

US Imposes Sanctions on Alleged Honduran Drug Gang

Treasury department alleges Los Valles group is responsible for smuggling tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine into US each month More

At 91, Marvel Creator Stan Lee Continues to Expand his Universe

Company's chief emeritus hopes to interest new generation of children in superheroes of all shapes and sizes by publishing content across multiple media platforms More

Photogallery New Drug Protects Against Virus in Ebola Family

Study by researchers at University of Texas Medical Branch, Tekmira Pharmaceuticals is first looking at drug's effectiveness after onset of symptoms More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Thomas from: Atlanta
March 16, 2013 9:50 PM
I am not sure how this is a risky move for Erdogan.

He has nothing to lose. The AKP has entered into negotiations with the PKK, if they succeed, it will go down in history. If it fails, the AKP can always blame the AKP.

Even the CHP has endorsed aspects of these negotiations. That should speak volumes to those who are watching these negotiations develop.

In Response

by: Salman Mofak from: ireland
March 18, 2013 7:05 PM
The PKK terrorist leader Abdullah Ocalan should be executed. In my view terrorist is terrorist it does not matter if they kill one person or thousands.
I totally with MHP leader is to fight the PKK terrorist and also I believe that the execution of Abdullah Öcalan would be a good lesson to the other members of the PKK terrorist organization to show that the Turkish government will not allow terrorists to escape without impunity. AK party negotiations with the PKK terrorist organization and protection of its leadership have no justification. This can only be described as treason. The continuation of this utterly unacceptable negotiation would lead sooner or later to the arrest of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for treason. In the view of many Turks, the prime minister should not forget that what he has been doing and the policies he has been following are treason.
Salman Turkmen Askeri

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebolai
X
George Putic
August 20, 2014 8:57 PM
While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls For Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid