Kurdish peace scenarios in Ankara
MURAT YETKİN ANKARA
BDP co-chair Gültan Kışanak says the process must be legally protected.The Turkish government has started to draft its scenarios in order to take further steps to realize a political solution to the country’s Kurdish problem following the declaration of a cease-fire by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) as a result of dialogue initiated by Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan last autumn, high-ranking sources in Ankara have told the Hürriyet Daily News.
According to the sources who asked not to be named, there is a three-stage plan for the year ahead, approximately up until the local elections in March 2014.
Those stages are:
1- A withdrawal of PKK militants from Turkish soil and disarmament.
2- The political management of the process in legal and psychological terms.
3- Normalization, including the reintegration of PKK militants into society.
Some details of the stages have started to become clear and have started to be put into effect, especially after the military wing of the PKK based in the Kandil mountains in Iraq abided by the March 21 cease-fire call of Abdullah Öcalan, the imprisoned-for-life leader of the organization, and announced that from March 23 on they would stop attacks.
Some of those details are as follows:
- WITHDRAWAL: There is a deadline for the withdrawal of some 1,500 militants in Turkey to their bases, mostly in Iraq; though unnamed, the deadline is said to be the beginning of the 2014 Budget talks in Parliament, which is approximately the end of October 2013. Sources say that after the start of the budget talks, it would become practically very difficult to insert any other subject onto the parliamentary agenda. And right after the budget talks, the parties will launch their election campaigns for the 2014 local polls. Beşir Atalay, the deputy prime minister in charge of the matter, said Sunday in Ankara that they were not in a rush and preferred to proceed safely. The government would like the withdrawal stage to be completed in August-September in order to have the maneuver finished before the opening of Parliament’s new legislative year on Oct. 1.
In parallel to the withdrawal, the government is getting ready to set up a commission in Parliament, probably with the title of “Unlawful Acts of the Past.”
- MANAGEMENT: There are a few prongs to this stage. The establishment of a Commission of “Wise People” is one of them and is one of the most important psychological dimensions. In those commissions, there will be figures who could address Turkey’s public opinion across the board.
A weekend demonstration by the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) in the northwestern city of Bursa showed that there is also a reaction to the government’s dialogue process. The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) has also adopted a distanced position. The positions of some 70,000 village guards, who are also of Kurdish origin but fight against the PKK as a militia force, are also uncertain, showing that the matter needs both psychological and political work.
In the legal dimension, drafting new legislation to facilitate the PKK militants’ departure from Turkey is not expected for the time being. Considering the fact that registering the names of the militants will make their return to Turkish society in the future much more difficult, the government thinks that the PKK will not further insist on this demand. But the government is considering the necessity of legal steps regarding the integration of the militants after they disarm and return Turkey; that is at the end of the third stage.
The government is working on a “Human Rights Action Plan” to go into effect in the second half of the year. The draft of the plan, which will state targets and deadlines for all ministries, is expected to be submitted to the Cabinet within the next few weeks. The aim of the draft is to secure full harmony with the European Convention on Human Rights.
The government is also considering whether to suspend the permission it has been given by the Parliament to launch cross-border raids on PKK bases there as a confidence-building measure.
- NORMALIZATION: The return of PKK militants will be another critical stage in the process. There is little question for those who do not have criminal records. For those who have criminal records, but not in commanding positions, there might be new legal regulations. An important question would be the fate of those who have been commanding, and have thus been in charge of the PKK’s attacks over the last 30 years, during which some 40,000 people have been killed. Prime Minister Erdoğan has said a number of times that those people could go to “third countries,” generally implying Scandinavian countries who could grant them a special status.
One of the important steps to be taken at this stage by the government is also to pass a radical legal amendment to abolish the Counter-Terrorism Law and reshape the Criminal Code.