Talking with the PKK

No one really understood what the statement, "The government does not talk, but state institutions may talk," actually meant. But it seems, whatever was intended with it was attained. What was intended? To prepare society for dangerous contact with potential social and political ramifications.

The messages given both by the president and the prime minister served this end. Then the Erdoğan government made this contact by taking a significant political risk.
No one can say that they did the wrong thing. Thus, the Kurdish issue and the terror issue started to take different paths. This contact or talk will have at least two basic functions. First, although it may sound a bit paradoxical, this contact will provide relief the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) regarding the issue of who will be considered best to address in talks over the settlement of the Kurdish issue. Indeed, the BDP had been elected to Parliament with the votes of Kurdish citizens but it had failed to exhibit any will at the expense of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan. Now, the representatives of the Kurdish voters are in a position to talk with the government in an easier manner. This applies to the government as well. Secondly, thanks to these contacts, the mumblings are about what are the demands from the state. Thus, a list of open and clear demands will replace a host of vague or abstract statements.

Provided that the realities of Turkey and universal standards on human rights are taken into consideration in voicing these reasonable demands, a solution can certainly be expected. The process of democratization and the EU bid will further facilitate this. What is uncertain here is whether Öcalan will place his personal situation as an obstacle to the settlement process. If he does this, the process will hit a dead end. We will see.

It is also wrong to assume that these talks with Öcalan, being carried out to the knowledge of the general public, means the end of the PKK terror. This talk may only be considered as a start. Weekly or monthly ceasefire announcements do not impart much confidence. It is known that around these times every year, the PKK ends its attacks and returns to its bases until the following spring. A meaningful or good-intentioned ceasefire should be announced in spring and for an indefinite period of time.

02 October 2010, Saturday