Another threshold for Kurdish issue this weekend

Another threshold for Kurdish issue this weekend

Turkey’s Kurdish problem could take yet another step this weekend toward a political solution, according to Pervin Buldan, an MP for the Kurdish problem-focused Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and an active member mediating the talks between the government and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) for the last three years.

Buldan was in the group of three HDP deputies who announced a Feb. 28 call by jailed PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan for a “reinforced cease-fire” toward ending the armed struggle launched in 1984, along with members of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Parti), who were led by Deputy Prime Minister Yalçın Akdoğan. She is also likely to be in the upcoming delegation that will go to İmralı Island Prison, south of Istanbul, where Öcalan has been held since 1999. That visit will probably take place on March 14, and Buldan hopes it could be another breakthrough in the talks.

“Actually, if government agrees to let the Independent Monitoring Group travel to the island with us and join our meeting with Öcalan, together with government officials led by Public Order and Security Undersecretary Muhammed Dervişoğlu and officials from the National Intelligence Organization [MİT], then we can take it as the beginning of the official peace negotiations,” Buldan told the Hürriyet Daily News on March 12.

That is the news right there. What Buldan is confirming is the official formation of a group of around 16 names that was put forward by Öcalan as a condition for the start of negotiations. Buldan said she cannot give any details about the group of 16 - and neither can official sources - but she did confirm that a list has been drawn up by the HDP after consultations with government were “apparently approved.” Buldan hinted that it could include names from the government-led “Wise Persons Group, intellectuals and journalists,” without going into details.

Her reluctance to give specific names implies an agreement with government officials about not revealing the list before it is 100 percent clear.

A day before, on March 11, Deputy Prime Minister Akdoğan had suggested that important developments could be in the pipeline that would turn Nevruz Day, the March 21 equinox, into a “milestone for the solution efforts.” Previously, he also voiced his expectations that Öcalan would call for a reinforced cease-fire aimed at saying farewell to arms on Nevruz, which is celebrated by Kurds as the beginning of the traditional New Year.

After her latest visit to the PKK headquarters in the Kandil Mountains of Iraq, Buldan had raised expectations that the call could be made by Öcalan himself through a live video transmission on the central square in Diyarbakır, instead of through a letter penned by him being read to the crowd.

“That issue could be resolved during our visit to İmralı this weekend,” Buldan said, again stressing the importance of the monitoring group and the video transmission for the HDP to accelerate the talks.