News / Middle East

Turkish Bill Aims to Advance Kurdish Peace Process

Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan greets ruling AK Party members, party headquarters, Ankara, June 25, 2014.
Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan greets ruling AK Party members, party headquarters, Ankara, June 25, 2014.
Reuters

Turkey's government plans to present to parliament within days a reform bill to advance its peace process with Kurdish militants, in a move that may boost support for Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan ahead of a presidential election in August.

Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay told reporters while in Bucharest on Tuesday that the government had completed work on a legislative framework for the peace process and was seeking ministers' signatures for the bill.

“I gave a presentation on it at the last cabinet meeting. A decision was made and within a couple of days we will present it to parliament as a draft law,” he said in comments broadcast on Turkish television on Wednesday.

Atalay's comments come a week before the ruling AK Party announces its candidate — widely expected to be Erdogan — for Turkey's first direct presidential election, due in August.

Kurds account for around a fifth of Turkey's population, and their support could be decisive for an Erdogan bid, although an opinion poll this week suggested he could still win enough support without their backing.

The move also comes amid growing conflict in neighboring Iraq between Sunni Islamist insurgents and government forces. While the Turkish reform package has long been on the table and is not seen as related to events in Iraq, it could in the long run also help cement positive relations with Iraqi Kurdistan.

Erdogan began peace talks with jailed militant leader Abdullah Ocalan in 2012 to end a three-decade insurgency by his Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) that has killed 40,000 people.

Increased militant activity and street protests in recent months have sowed doubts over the prospects for a final deal.

Deputies from the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) were expected to discuss the bill with Ocalan when they visit him in jail this week, MP Pervin Buldan told Reuters. He said the deputies did not yet know what the bill contains.

“I anticipate he has received this bill and will share it with us. It has to be assessed as a positive step for the process. It will give a legal guarantee to the process,” she said.

Pro-Kurdish politicians have long sought such a guarantee. Party sources said they would need to see the contents of the bill before lending it their support.

Rehabilitation

According to the Hurriyet newspaper, the law will protect officials involved in the process from potential future prosecution and will facilitate the rehabilitation of militants.

Erdogan has invested significant political capital in peace efforts, boosting cultural and language rights at the risk of alienating some of his grassroots support. Ankara, the United States and the European Union call the PKK a terrorist group, and Ocalan remains widely reviled among Turks.

A ceasefire called by Ocalan in March 2013 has largely held, but the PKK halted a rebel withdrawal to bases in northern Iraq last summer, complaining about the slow pace of negotiations.

It was not clear if the reform package would guarantee Kurdish support for Erdogan.

HDP Chairman Selahattin Demirtas denied his party had made a deal with the AK Party to support Erdogan in the presidential election. Demirtas also indicated in an interview with Milliyet newspaper published on Wednesday that he may be his party's candidate in the presidential vote.

Protests have flared up in the mainly Kurdish southeast in recent weeks over the construction of new military outposts, with demonstrators blocking a highway between Diyarbakir city and Bingol province. But that protest, which resulted in the deaths of two protesters, has now come to an end.

The PKK took up arms against Turkey in 1984 with the aim of carving out a separate state in the southeast for the country's Kurds. They subsequently moderated their demands, seeking increased political and cultural rights which were long denied.

You May Like

WHO: Anti-Ebola Efforts Should Focus on West Africa

Official says WHO is 'reasonably confident' countries bordering those hardest hit by the Ebola outbreak are not seeing the virus crossing their borders More

South Sudan Crisis Threatens Development

Economic costs and lost development opportunities in South Sudan have erased what little progress the country has made since independence in 2011 More

Ukrainian PM Warns: Russia May Try to Disrupt Sunday Poll

Arseniy Yatsenyuk orders full security mobilization for parliamentary election to prevent ‘terrorist acts’ from being carried out More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid