A Call for Peace in Turkey

28-03-2013

On 21 March, the jailed leader of the Kurdistan's Workers' Party, the PKK, called for a truce with the government of Turkey. For nearly three decades, the 'Kurdish issue' has dogged Turkish politicians and the country's Kurdish minority. PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan repeated the words of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's — 'now let weapons be silenced and ideas talk' — and added, 'this is not an end but a new beginning'. In exchange for the PKK fighters' retreat, Turkey's 15 million Kurds would gain wider constitutional recognition. The peace process is likely to involve three stages. PM Erdoğan was the first Turkish government leader to address the Kurdish question by proposing to expand Kurds' rights. His 2009 'democratic initiative' represented a window of opportunity...but the window was rapidly shut. An air strike in 2011 damaged the shaky confidence between the PKK and the Turkish government. Dialogue remained difficult until the end of 2012, when talks were reopened. The EU's progress reports on Turkey have called for Kurds to enjoy greater rights. The EP has called on Turkey to invest greater efforts in finding a political solution for the Kurdish issue. Necessary reforms — in particular to protect minorities — could put Turkey's EU accession process on track. The latest developments have made many in Turkey optimistic that this will prove an historic opportunity.

On 21 March, the jailed leader of the Kurdistan's Workers' Party, the PKK, called for a truce with the government of Turkey. For nearly three decades, the 'Kurdish issue' has dogged Turkish politicians and the country's Kurdish minority. PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan repeated the words of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's — 'now let weapons be silenced and ideas talk' — and added, 'this is not an end but a new beginning'. In exchange for the PKK fighters' retreat, Turkey's 15 million Kurds would gain wider constitutional recognition. The peace process is likely to involve three stages. PM Erdoğan was the first Turkish government leader to address the Kurdish question by proposing to expand Kurds' rights. His 2009 'democratic initiative' represented a window of opportunity...but the window was rapidly shut. An air strike in 2011 damaged the shaky confidence between the PKK and the Turkish government. Dialogue remained difficult until the end of 2012, when talks were reopened. The EU's progress reports on Turkey have called for Kurds to enjoy greater rights. The EP has called on Turkey to invest greater efforts in finding a political solution for the Kurdish issue. Necessary reforms — in particular to protect minorities — could put Turkey's EU accession process on track. The latest developments have made many in Turkey optimistic that this will prove an historic opportunity.