News / Europe

Turkey Cautious Over PKK Cease-Fire Announcement

Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (2012 photo)Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (2012 photo)
Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (2012 photo)
Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (2012 photo)
Dorian Jones

The announcement of a cease-fire by Abdullah Ocalan, leader of the Kurdistan Worker's Party or PKK, has been cautiously welcomed by Turkey's prime minister.

The imprisoned rebel leader described his call for a cease-fire and withdrawal of his forces from Turkey as historic. But Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was cautious in his response.

"I find the call, the invitation, a positive development," he said. "But the essential thing is the decision into practice. We would like to see the reality of Ocalan's remarks in the shortest time possible," Erdogan said.

The Turkish government has indicted that the withdrawal of an estimated 3,000 PKK fighters in Turkey could be achieved by the end of the year. Prime Minister Erdogan also gave a commitment that departing rebels would be allowed safe passage.

However, Ocalan gave no timetable for the withdrawal. Murat Karayilan, the commander of the PKK in nothern Iraq, reportedly ordered a cease-fire but not a call for withdrawal from Turkey

Sinan Ulgen, head of the Istanbul-based research institute Edam, believes the PKK is looking for the government to make some concessions.

"I think the PKK wants the parliament to acknowledge this process. If they get this commitment from the Turkish parliament it will be the main guarantee that they are keen as a legitimate interlocutor. And, that would certainty go a long way in convincing their grassroots (groups) or to their constituents that they have acquired this legitimacy and that they are not seen as a defeated quote-unquote army," Ulgen said.

Until now, efforts to resolve the decades-long conflict between the Turkish state and the PKK have been confined to talks between Ocalan and the head of Turkey's Intelligence Agency, Hakan Fidan. Erdogan refuses to describe the talks as negotiations.

Gultan Kisanak, co-leader of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party, said earlier this month the government has to legitimize the process by bringing in parliament.

"We believe right now there should be the creation of parliament commissions to work on the peace negotiations and this is what we expect from the government, she said. "It is vital in helping to bridge the different demands of the state and Kurdish people."

Analyst Ulgen warns that such a move would carry risks for the prime minister and the peace process.

"We should all recall that Ocalan is still viewed by many Turks as the person responsible for the deaths of up to 35,000 people. And, therefore, a government initiative that would aim to legitimize the talks with him is likely to produce a backlash in Turkish society. So that is the reason why the government is quite cautious about this," Ulgen said.

With the arrival of spring and the snows melting in the mountain hideouts of the PKK across Turkey's predominantly Kurdish southeast, observers predict an increase in pressure on the rebels to withdraw, along with growing expectations by Kurds of concessions by the government.


You May Like

Video In US, Columbus Day Still Generates Controversy

Holiday marks date Columbus discovered Americas, but some are offended by legacy because he enslaved many natives he encountered More

Video Through Sports, Austria Tries to Give Migrants Traction

With 85,000 people expected to claim asylum in Austria this year, its government has made integration through joint physical activities a key objective More

Video Kickboxing Champion Shares Sport With Young Migrants

Pouring into Europe by hundreds of thousands, some migrants, especially youngsters, are finding sports a way to integrate into new host countries More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemeni
Henry Ridgwell
October 12, 2015 4:03 PM
The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemen

The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video No Resolution in Sight to US House Speaker Drama

Uncertainty grips the U.S. Congress, where no consensus replacement has emerged to succeed Republican House Speaker John Boehner after his surprise resignation announcement. Half of Congress is effectively leaderless weeks before America risks defaulting on its national debt and enduring another partial government shutdown.

Video New Art Exhibit Focuses on Hope

Out of struggle and despair often comes hope. That idea is behind a new art exhibit at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. "The Big Hope Show" features 25 artists, some of whom overcame trauma and loss. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Columbus Day Still Generates Controversy as US Holiday

The second Monday of October is Columbus Day in the United States, honoring explorer Christopher Columbus and his discovery of the Americas. The achievement is a source of pride for many, but for some the holiday is marked by controversy. Adrianna Zhang has more.

Video Anger Simmers as Turks Begin to Bury Blast Victims

The Turkish army carried out new air strikes on Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) targets on Sunday, a day after the banned group announced a unilateral cease fire. The air raids apparently are in retaliation for the Saturday bombing in Turkey's capital Ankara that killed at least 95 people and wounded more than 200 others. But as Zlatica Hoke reports, there are suspicions that Islamic State is involved.

Video Bombings a Sign of Turkey’s Deep Troubles

Turkey has begun a three-day period of mourning following Saturday’s bomb attacks in the capital, Ankara, that killed nearly 100 people. With contentious parliamentary elections three weeks away, the attacks highlight the challenges Turkey is facing as it struggles with ethnic friction, an ongoing migrant crisis, and growing tensions with Russia. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Afghanistan’s Progress Aided by US Academic Center

Recent combat in Afghanistan has shifted world attention back to the central Asian nation’s continuing civil war and economic challenges. But, while there are many vexing problems facing Afghanistan’s government and people, a group of academics in Omaha, Nebraska has kept a strong faith in the nation’s future through programs to improve education. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Omaha, Nebraska.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video In 'He Named Me Malala,' Guggenheim Finds Normal in Extraordinary

Davis Guggenheim’s documentary "He Named Me Malala" offers a probing look into the life of 18-year-old Malala Yousafsai, the Pakistani teenager who, in 2012, was shot in the head by the Taliban for standing up for her right to education in her hometown in Pakistan's Swat Valley. Guggenheim shows how, since then, Malala has become a symbol not as a victim of brutal violence, but as an advocate for girls’ education throughout the world. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.

Video Paintable Solar Cells May Someday Replace Silicon-Based Panels

Solar panels today are still factory-manufactured, with the use of some highly toxic substances such as cadmium chloride. But a researcher at St. Mary’s College, Maryland, says we are close to being able to create solar panels by painting them on a suitable surface, using nontoxic solutions. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs