The BDP and KCK expressed their disappointment with the latest “democracy package” and stated that this may be “the end of so-called peace process.” This is so not because they had high expectations, I think. In fact, they were not assuming that the package would promise some radical chances concerning political autonomy and Kurdish-language public education. Nevertheless, they were expecting positive hints concerning the future of the peace process.
First of all, the basic problem is still about the negotiation process. From the beginning, Öcalan has been demanding better conditions to play a role, yet nothing has changed concerning the “conditions” apart from betterment of his individual wellbeing. It was not what he meant by “better conditions,” he rather means to have channels of communication not only with the KCK and BDP, but also with intellectuals, NGO’s and all independent platforms. Besides, Kurds were expecting the government to soften his approach, especially concerning KCK trials. They were ready to wait and see and this was what they did for a considerable time. Now it seems that they did not like what they saw and declared the end of the PKK pull-out even before the democracy package.
From the beginning, everybody knows that the government was rather concerned by the ceasefire than anything else and has been taking its time. Besides, everybody knows that it is not in the advantage of PKK to end the ceasefire and restart military conflict. Nevertheless, it seems that the government based all its calculations on that assumption. It is true that both parties benefit from taking their time and very careful to be seen committed to the peace process. That is why the government is trying to be seen as taking steps and the Kurds try to seem to believe in the progress of the peace process. Otherwise, not only both sides have almost no trust to each other, but also they do not have a clear strategy concerning the solution of the Kurdish problem.
To start with, there is still “no negotiation process,” as far as the PM and government party denies that they negotiate with Ocalan and PKK. It may be to avoid public opinion pressures, but it cannot go on like this forever. Moreover, no such conflict can be resolved without the formalization of the process and the mediation of a third party; namely an international actor. Turkey may take it badly as a sort of foreign intervention, yet Turkey play as a mediator in international level, for instance in the case of the conflict in Phillipines. We should only have to realize that it is a good thing to do to end such conflicts. (See my column “Terms of Peace for Others,” February 25, 2013)
Then, there cannot be a solution unless not only the government but also the opposition truly understands the nature of the Kurdish question as a problem of “Kurdish nationality.” I am not saying that we could expect such acknowledgement from the latest democracy package or the next, but the future of the process depends on the true understanding of the issue sooner the better. Alas, we are far from it.
Finally, the need for change in Turkish policy on Rojeva (Kurdish region in North Syria) has major importance on the progress of the peace process, yet the government still seems very reluctant to deal with the reality of PYD power there. We can only hope that it is never too late.