Turkey given UK know-how from Good Friday negotiator

Turkey given UK know-how from Good Friday negotiator

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Turkey given UK know-how from Good Friday negotiator

Turkish intelligence chief Hakan Fidan (C) met with Jonathan Powell, a negotiator in the Northern Ireland talks, as the country bids to solve the Kurdish issue. AA photo

Jonathan Powell, a key negotiator in the Northern Ireland peace talks that resulted in the Good Friday Agreement, shared his experiences with Turkish officials yesterday as Ankara has rolled up its sleeves to end the three-decade-old terror problem.

Powell, the right-hand man of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, met with intelligence chief Hakan Fidan; Mehmet Ulvi Saran, undersecretary for public order and security; and Yalçın Akdoğan, an adviser to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, to share his experience conducting talks with the Irish Republican Army.

“We were not the ones requesting a meeting, they were. Their experience has significant differences from ours,” Akdoğan told NTV yesterday. According to Akdoğan, the meeting with Powell has nothing to do with the internationalization of the ongoing resolution process. “This is what makes the current process different from Oslo, where there were international actors involved. This time, there are no international actors involved in the process,” he said.

“And just like the case of the IRA, the [Kurdistan Workers’ Party] PKK will always be deemed a terrorist organization,” he added.

The government has initiated a fresh effort to end the PKK’s armed struggle through negotiations between the intelligence organization and Abdullah Öcalan, the imprisoned leader of the PKK. Although different from the IRA experience of the United Kingdom, Turkish and British officials have met time to time to exchange views on their experience of conflict resolution.

Ireland is ready to share its experience with Turkey on ending decades of violence, a negotiator for the Good Friday Northern Ireland accords said yesterday. Dominic Hannigan, a former head of the Good Friday Agreement committee, told his Turkish and Kurdish counterparts that they must “take risks” for peace if they hope to end three decades of armed struggle.

“It’s a long road. Nobody is going to sign a peace agreement overnight,” Hannigan told AFP.

Turkey is exploring outside models including the ending of “The Troubles” between Britain and the Irish Republican Army through the Good Friday agreement in 1998.

A group of Irish lawmakers visited Ankara this week for discussions with Turkey’s political parties to tell about their experience with the IRA, which fought for a united Ireland.

“I’ve no doubt that peace will be achieved. The question is when. It will only be achieved when the various parties decide that absolutely peace is the best way forward and that those parties take risks for peace,” Hannigan said.

Army to be instructed

Erdoğan reaffirmed yesterday that the peace process was continuing in very good shape but declined to give an exact timeframe for its accomplishment. “All segments of Turkish society; media, academics and trade unionists are exerting efforts for this process,” he said.

Asked about daily Milliyet’s report that the Turkish army was asking the government to issue written instructions in order not to face prosecutions in the future due to their non-intervention against the terrorists during their withdrawal from Turkish soil, Erdoğan said the necessary procedures would be done when needed. “The armed forces use the authority they receive from us, and these authorities in this new process will be issued when necessary. They will take steps accordingly,” he said.