Critical two weeks in Kurdish peace process

Critical two weeks in Kurdish peace process

Critical two weeks in Kurdish peace process

Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) co-chief Selahattin Demirtaş. DHA photo

The peace process on the Kurdish issue is approaching a critical point in next two weeks and the process risks being a missed opportunity for both sides, Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) co-chief Selahattin Demirtaş told a group of journalists recently.

The next 15 days are critical for the future of the peace process the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government began by starting meetings with Abdullah Öcalan, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader imprisoned for life.

One of the two critical dates set during the meetings of Öcalan and the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) is Sept. 1.

A framework on a solution agreed upon in the meetings of the intelligence delegation and Öcalan should be revealed by Sept. 1 at the latest, according to the Kurdish side.

The second critical date is Oct. 15, which is seen as the deadline for reaching certain agreed concrete goals. Öcalan has a red line about this date. He takes Oct. 15 as the latest time for a legal regulation about the withdrawal of the PKK militants to be made. “If no law is enforced, one [militant] will not return,” said Demirtaş, adding that rapid steps should be taken in the upcoming weeks in this regard as the local and presidential elections might change the agenda after the fall.

“Öcalan is seriously concerned about the possibility that this initiative might fall” and even told the BDP group who met with him not to “dwell on the details or exaggerate problems, such an opportunity might not come again,” Demirtaş added.

“Regional developments might not allow such a process again,” Öcalan believes, according to Demirtaş.

Another reason is that Öcalan has concerns about his health and wants to “solve this issue while he is still alive,” said Demirtaş, adding that Öcalan did not state it openly but this was his impression from the meetings with him.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said work on a democratization package was ongoing and signaled that Parliament might be opened earlier than its scheduled date for this in a speech Aug. 8.

However, this package might be far from meeting the expectations of Kandil and Öcalan. But it might also bring improvements Kurdish people might not reject and might accept despite insufficiencies. The Kurdish movement is not likely to cut all ties with the ongoing process despite such a result coming from the package. Demirtaş said they would work to avoid a return to arms despite all the negative possibilities. Meanwhile, Öcalan will probably withdraw from meetings and say “the state can meet with Kandil” instead, if no progress is reached by Oct. 15, Demirtaş said.