A major stress test is over
Another stress test has been left behind successfully in the Turkish government’s initiative to find a political solution to the country’s Kurdish problem. That test was the revealing of the leak of parts of the minutes of talks between Abdullah Öcalan, the imprisoned for life leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), and members of Parliament of the Kurdish problem-focused Peace and Democracy Party (BDP).
Following days of rows about who might have leaked the confidential documents to Milliyet newspaper, which overlapped with a press freedom debate after Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan’s accusations regarding media responsibility, the BDP concluded its inner probe yesterday, March 12. Two of its party assembly members and a press official were fired, with an apology.
The press release from the BDP helped tone down the political tension around the issue, which is number one in public debate nowadays. The tension had escalated, particularly in the morning hours, when Erdoğan cancelled his parliamentary address to his ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Parti) group, due to flu. He was expected to make important statements about the release of hostage public servants who were being held by the PKK in Kurdish parts of Iraq, as a goodwill gesture for the continuation of the dialogue process, but the handover was delayed for another day. Then came the news of the cancellation of the BDP parliamentary group meeting, where an announcement by co-chair Gültan Kışanak was expected to be made about the “leak.” The day before, co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş had been hospitalized in Diyarbakır due to a coronary problem, as was reported. So people had started to think that there really was something wrong. That is why the BDP written statement was a relief.
This was the third stress test in the last two months regarding the “process.” The first one was the murder of three female members of the PKK in Paris on Jan. 9. That is still an unsolved case, but it did no damage to the process; in fact, quite the contrary. The second stress test was the funeral of the three women in Diyarbakır, with PKK flags and other paraphernalia on Jan. 17. The third was the leak on Feb. 28, on the same day that a BDP delegation was on its way to visit the Kandil Mountains in Iraq, where the PKK headquarters are located, to discuss messages from Öcalan.
The interesting point is that no one seriously discussed the content of the leak, which under different circumstances could turn everything upside down in the country. Even criticism from the opposition parties could be regarded as simply paying the dues. There is only one reason for this: People really want an end to the bloodshed from the 30-year-long armed campaign by the PKK as a part of the Kurdish problem. The credit given by the people is the source of the endurance for the stress tests.
However, government sources warn of new “provocations” along the way, especially on and around the Nevruz day on March 21, when the BDP is preparing for a “million person rally” in Diyarbakır. That is why people in Ankara are waiting with caution to see how things will unfold.