The Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, has welcomed on March 23 the call for a cease-fire issued by Abdullah Öcalan, the jailed leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party
(PKK), during Nevruz celebrations in Diyarbakır
on March 21.
“The OIC commends the determination and attempts of the Turkish Government to achieve lasting peace and stability in the country and welcomes commitments to terminate the long-standing violence and terrorist activities of the PKK
and move them beyond Turkish territories,” the statement read.
Earlier, the United States and the European Union
had also welcomed what they described as a “positive step.” The U.S. administration hailed the Turkish government’s efforts in the ongoing peace process to bring an end to the Kurdish issue through talks.
"The United States welcomes today's announcement by the Kurdistan Workers' Party to halt the violence as a positive step toward ending more than three decades of tragic violence in Turkey," U.S. State Department Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters during a press meeting in Washington on March 21. This violence has claimed too many lives and too many futures, and must end, she said.
"We applaud the courageous efforts of the government of Turkey and all parties concerned to achieve a peaceful resolution that will advance democracy in Turkey and improve the lives of all of Turkey's citizens."
She added that the U.S. would continue to support all initiatives towards a resolution of the Kurdish issue.
The jailed PKK
leader's message came amid an ongoing peace process initiated by the Turkish government to end a three-decades-old conflict with the outlawed group.
“We are at a point today that guns will be silenced and thoughts will speak. It is time for armed elements to move outside [Turkey’s] borders. This is not an ending but a new beginning,” read the message, conveyed in front of hundreds of thousands of people gathered in Diyarbakır. EU ready for 'financial contribution'
The European Union
also considered Öcalan's call a "positive development," adding that it was ready to financially contribute to the process if needed. "This is an important step forward to end an issue which has taken a considerable number of lives. We expect a concrete follow-up and implementation [of the call]," said EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and European Commissioner Stefan Füle in a joint statement. The two senior EU executives said the European Union
could contribute with the "financial assistance instruments" available for partner and candidate countries.
The European Parliament's Socialists and Democrats (SD) group chief, Hannes Swoboda, also welcomed the call. "This can open the path to an era of peace and new partnership for Turkish citizens," he said.