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)
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Multimedia Relatives of South Korean Ferry Victims Fire at Authorities

46 people are confirmed dead, but some 250 remain trapped inside sunken ferry More

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

$84 million project aims to clean up soil contaminated by Agent Orange More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends 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.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid