PKK leader does not rule out renewed conflict

PKK leader does not rule out renewed conflict

PKK leader does not rule out renewed conflict

BDP deputies Buldan (L) and Önder read out Öcalan’s Nevruz message in this file photo.

Outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan has not ruled out a restart of conflict, but said the peace process is set to continue.

In his latest message released after Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) deputies visited İmralı Prison on April 26, Öcalan said the peace process was changing.

“The [peace] process is changing its character. Every moment the opportunities of deepened solutions and possibilities of conflict are present,” Öcalan said in his message. “Especially the steps that the government will take might remove the possibility of conflict and might develop solutions.”

The resolution or peace process, also dubbed the “negotiations,” refers to an ongoing government-led initiative aimed at ending the long-running Kurdish issue by ending the three-decade-old conflict between security forces and the PKK.

Öcalan began talks with Turkish officials in late 2012 to halt the conflict that has left more than 40,000 people dead over the past three decades. In March 2013, he ordered his fighters to observe a cease-fire. Many militants have also withdrawn from Turkish soil in what was dubbed as the first step of the peace process, but the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), which shares the same grassroots as the PKK, has been urging the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) to take legislative steps to start the second phase.

As part of the process, BDP deputies paid visits to Öcalan at İmralı Prison and the PKK leader’s latest announcement came after the latest meeting with lawmakers Pervin Buldan, İdris Baluken and Sırrı Süreyya Önder.

Öcalan said he was not unhappy with the process, despite setbacks.

“I do not regret carrying the process to where it is now, although I had many problems. I find [the process] very important,” Öcalan said. “The process is [well-rooted] enough to make the most important contribution to Turkey’s democracy moves. I invite all parties to do what they can in this regard. If those in political power want to have armed militants return to the community, it should continue the legislative works. There is a historical importance to complete the legislative regulations immediately,” he added.

Öcalan also congratulated all workers on the upcoming May Day, adding that he would release another statement on the issue before May 1.