As Kurds speak of Turkey at an American house in Russia

As Kurds speak of Turkey at an American house in Russia

Everything has started to unfold at a faster pace in Turkey’s Kurdish peace bid, and in an extremely symbolic manner.

This is evident in a recent statement by Selahattin Demirtaş, the co-chairman of the Kurdish-focused Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) in the Turkish Parliament about the start of official talks between the Turkish government and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Demirtaş said that the HDP, which shares a similar grassroots with the PKK, expected the “negotiations” to begin within ten days, following an ongoing “dialogue” over the last two years.

That brings us to the first week of 2015, but that is not the symbolic part of the picture.

Demirtaş made that important remark during his speech at the Carnegie Center in Moscow; in another words, in an American house in Russia.

It is a fact that the PKK wants a “third-eye,” a third country between them and the Turkish government to witness the sealing of a deal to end Turkey’s chronic Kurdish problem. They made it clear a number of times that they wanted the U.S. government, Turkey’s NATO ally, to be that “third-eye”.

And in his recent trip to Moscow, Demirtaş asked Russia to get more actively involved in Turkey’s Kurdish bid.
The PKK suspects that President Tayyip Erdoğan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu have been following a “Carrot before and a stick after the elections” policy - elections are scheduled for June 7, 2015 - claiming that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Parti) government has made promises before at least three elections (or referenda), which were not delivered.

And the distrust is reciprocal. The government thinks the PKK has been keeping its military network alive and kicking with additional links within the Turkish armed leftist groups capable of operating in big cities in western Turkey.

Murat Karayılan, the head of the military forces of the PKK, disclosed some content about the negotiating framework, which did not please the government. He said if everything goes well, the PKK could declare an end to its armed struggle by March 15, and Abdullah Öcalan could lead a PKK Congress by April 15. But if the government “stalls” them until after the elections, Karayılan said the PKK could end the ceasefire and start attacking again. The PKK’s armed campaign has claimed some 40 thousand lives in Turkey since it began in 1984.

Yalçın Akdoğan, the Deputy Prime Minister in contact with the HDP, said that the public should trust the government and should not listen to statements by the PKK but rather those from the government.

The HDP members of Parliament, including Demirtaş, have been going between the government, the PKK headquarters in the Kandil Mountains of Iraq and PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan in the İmralı island-prison south of Istanbul since December 2012.

Therefore, the symbolism in Demirtaş’s remark of is like an international call “to whom it may concern” about the near future of the talks.

Either way, it seems Turkey’s Kurdish peace bid is entering a new and a critical phase.