News / Europe

Kurds, Turks Vow to Continue Talks Despite Killings

Turkish Kurds in Diyarbakir, Turkey protest killings of three Kurdish women in Paris, Jan. 10, 2013.
Turkish Kurds in Diyarbakir, Turkey protest killings of three Kurdish women in Paris, Jan. 10, 2013.
Dorian Jones
In Turkey, Kurdish and Turkish politicians alike say the killing in Paris of three Kurdish rebel activists should not derail efforts to end the decades-long conflict between the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) rebel group and the Turkish state. Those efforts appear to have already achieved significant political momentum.

While Kurdish and Turkish politicians differ on who they believe was responsible for killing the Kurdish activists in Paris on Thursday, there is consensus that the murders should not undermine government efforts to bring to an end the nearly three-decade conflict with the PKK.

Political scientist Cengiz Aktar of Istanbul’s Bahcesehir University says in contrast to previous peace efforts that failed, this time there appears to be widespread support.

"Probably we have reached the largest coalition regarding the peace talks and negotiations. With the exception of the MHP and another extreme rightist party, I think the consensus is there in the political world and the no-sayers, the so-called war lobby, is shrinking everyday," Aktar said.

In recent weeks, Turkey's government confirmed its head of intelligence, Hakan Fidan, met with the imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan. According to newspaper reports, those talks made progress.  

A sign of that progress, observers say, is that authorities allowed two senior Kurdish politicians to meet with Ocalan.

The leader of the main legal Kurdish party in Turkey, the BDP, has also requested a meeting with Ocalan.  But the parliamentary leader of the rightist Nationalist Movement Party, the MHP, condemned the efforts and accused Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of giving in to terrorism.  

Stung by those charges, Erdogan this week ruled out any general amnesty for the rebels and called on them to disarm immediately.

"Our sincerity can be seen in the steps that we have taken in the last few days," he said. "Our aim is to have the separatist terrorist organization’s cadres leave Turkey. We want to make them to lay down their arms and leave."

Political observers say with the Kurdish rebels stronger than they have been in a decade, the demand is unrealistic.  Sinan Ulgen of the Istanbul-based research institute Edam says any disarmament will have to be part of a process.

"One of the first steps would be for the PKK to lay down its arms. But nonetheless, that would come as a package with the steps defined in advance," Ulgen said.

Analysts say those steps are likely to include enshrining Kurdish rights in the fields of education and administration in a new constitution currently being written by lawmakers.  

Ertugrul Kurkcu, a deputy for the pro-Kurdish BDP, welcomes the prime minister's peace efforts but worries about his consistency.

"Tayyip Erdogan can do anything anytime, he is the most unreliable person in the government and he is the most unreliable person in the Turkish state for the time being.  We can talk about coherent arbitrariness of the Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan," Kurkcu said.

Analysts say that patience will be crucial to the talks' success.

But political scientist Aktar says with the country going into two years of elections starting next year, some progress has to be made soon, especially with spring only a few months away.

"What is important is to make visible and tangible achievements in the first year before the elections. I think one of the first aims of these talks is to make sure the PKK fighters will leave the Turkish territory and therefore won't be able to conduct military actions anymore when the snows start to melt down," Aktar said.

Experts estimate that about 2,500 PKK rebels are based in Turkey with the rest camped in neighboring northern Iraq.

Winter usually sees a drop in fighting with the region heavily snowed in.  But the onset of spring traditionally sees a surge in fighting, and observers say both sides will want to achieve progress before the melting of winter snows.

You May Like

IS Militants Release 49 Turkish Hostages

Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reports that no ransom was paid and no conditions accepted for the hostages' release; few details of the release are known More

Photogallery IS Attacks Send Thousands of Syrian Kurds Fleeing to Turkey

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 300 Kurdish fighters crossed into Syria from Turkey to defend a Kurdish area from attack by the Islamic militants More

Video Sierra Leone's Ebola Lockdown Continues

Thousands of health workers are going door to door in the West African country of 6 million, informing people of how to avoid Ebola, handing out soap More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: JKF from: Ottawa, Canada
January 13, 2013 4:44 PM
The original idea that either Turkish, or PPK insiders, from Turkey, directed/carried out the assasination of these women, is starting to look less probable. Media reports that negotiations have been ongoing for a couple of years, between Turkey and the Turkish based PPK group, including the jailed Ocalan, may indicate that neither of the two original possible suspect entities had a good motive to carry out the crime at this time. If it was a political assesination, there is a recent third party that would benefit from talks completely failing, and that are parties relating to the ongoing Syrian conflict. If a formal detente would have been reached, between Turkey and the PPK, then the door was clearly open, for the Kurdish minority in Syria to switch sides, without fearing the fact that Turkey was supporting Syria's opposition, and join the opposition to Assad. It adds the possibility that the henious event event/direction originated in/from Syrian based interests, to ensure the Kurds would not reach an agreement with the Turks, and switch sides.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’i
X
Jeff Seldin
September 20, 2014 10:28 PM
Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid