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

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years 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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs