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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants 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.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs