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

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said To Be Improving

Experimental drugs have been tried on six people: three Westerners and now, three African pyhysicians More

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities residents rebuild their lives, but many say everyone is being treated with suspicion More

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

Girls learn to object; FGM practitioners face penalties from jail sentences to stiff fines 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.
Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improvingi
X
Carol Pearson
August 19, 2014 11:43 PM
The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.
Video

Video For Obama, Racial Violence is Personal Issue

The racial violence in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson is presenting U.S. President Barack Obama with an issue to which he has a deep personal connection. To many Americans, Obama's election as America's first black president marked a turning point in race relations in the United States, and Obama has made ending the violence a policy priority. On Monday he issued a new call for calm and understanding. Luis Ramirez reports from the White House.
Video

Video Clinton-Obama Relationship Could Impact 2016 Election

President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have a long and complicated relationship. That relationship took another turn recently when Clinton criticized the president’s foreign policy. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports there is renewed attention on the Clinton-Obama relationship as Hillary Clinton considers running for
Video

Video Iran Looks to Maintain Influence in Baghdad With New Shia PM

Washington and Tehran share the goal of stopping Syrian-based militants in Iraq. But experts say it's Iran, not the United States, that will most influence how the new government in Baghdad approaches internal reforms and the war in Syria. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

AppleAndroid