Could PKK-MİT talks be resumed?

Could PKK-MİT talks be resumed?

Spending nearly two weeks abroad – first in Arab Spring countries then in New York to attend the U.N. meetings – Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan returned home late Sunday. In his absence, Turkey has been shaken by a number of terror attacks that claimed the lives of dozens of civilians and security personnel. One of the attacks took place only 200 meters away from his office in downtown Ankara – something that was a direct message to Prime Minister Erdoğan for many.

Since his return from the U.S. where he held talks with President Barack Obama, a change in Erdoğan’s and other government members’ rhetoric against the Peace and Democracy Party, or BDP, and in the fight against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, is quite visible.

The first signal came from Erdoğan in his press conference at Esenboğa Airport on his return to Ankara. He said the government was ready for political negotiations with the BDP without mentioning his earlier conditions that the pro-Kurdish party should first denounce terror acts. The second signal was given by Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç on Monday. He said halted talks between the National Intelligence Organization, or MIT, and the PKK could be resumed under certain conditions.

We do have enough information to link the change in the ruling party’s approach toward the BDP and on the PKK-MİT talks with Erdoğan’s meeting with Obama. Still, it’s no secret that Washington has long advised Turkey to continue with the reform process to heed the demands of citizens of Kurdish descent.

Given the fact that the exposed secret meetings between MİT and the PKK did not move heaven and earth, the government, in fact, should be in a position to take advantage of this. Arınç’s statement, in this sense, could be interpreted that the government was ready to restart this negotiation process. There were already rumors that a new MİT team has been formed and sent to İmralı island to meet with imprisoned PKK chieftain Abdullah Öcalan.

With days left to the opening of the Parliament, which will highlight a new process to renew the country’s junta-made constitution, the messages to be delivered by the government to encourage the BDP to return to Parliament and to actively take part in the process have significant importance.

The only way to counter the negative effect of continued terror acts poisoning the political climate is to provide the groundwork for a healthy and stable communication with the elected representatives of the Kurdish citizens. This was also the wish of the nongovernmental organizations and the academics who met in Parliament last week. Members of the government, particularly Erdoğan and his close aides, should be careful in selecting their words when talking about these sensitive issues in the coming days, especially after the opening of Parliament. The contrary will not only kill the charter process but also worsen the current state of terror acts across the entire country.

There is no need to repeat that Turkey has had enough painful experiences to understand that military measures alone have all failed to end terrorism. The charter process should thus be embraced with full attention and sensitivity so as not to miss a golden opportunity for Turkey’s future.