Turkish government could soon start negotiations with the PKK

Turkish government could soon start negotiations with the PKK

Turkish government could soon start negotiations with the PKK

A Kurdish resolution process meeting convened under the leadership of Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu (L) on Feb 10 in Ankara. AA photo

Turkey’s government could shift into a negotiations phase “within two weeks” in talks with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in pursuit of a political settlement to the Kurdish issue, Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) co-chair Figen Yüksekdağ said Feb. 11.

“The developments regarding the solution process are not negative. There would be no joint statement if we were not able to shift to the negotiations phase. We are already ready for that. The government could not complete its preparations. We expect to start negotiations within two weeks,” she told reporters in parliament. “Some more steps are needed in addition to the current legal framework. One of them is the release of ill prisoners. [Jailed PKK leader Abdullah] Öcalan has been trying to put the solution on track before the elections. I hope the government will act accordingly and overcome the problems.”

The HDP has been aiding the talks between government officials, Öcalan and the PKK headquarters in the Kandil Mountains of Iraq since late 2012.

As Yüksekdağ was talking to reporters in parliament, another HDP delegation was in talks with Deputy Prime Minister Yalçın Akdoğan in the PM’s office. Such talks are typically conducted by HDP MPs Pervin Buldan, Sırrı Süreyya Önder and İdris Baluken, all of whom have frequently visited Öcalan on his İmralı island prison as part of the dialogue process.

The visit with Akdoğan was the second tête-à-tête between the government and the HDP in 24 hours, according to sources close to the developments who asked not to be named.

The HDP lawmakers met with Akdoğan on the evening of Feb. 10 immediately after a security meeting chaired by Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu. That was the last meeting in which Hakan Fidan attended as the head of National Intelligence Organization (MİT) before he resigned to run in the June 7 elections as a candidate for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). Since the beginning of the year, the talks have officially been conducted by the Public Order and Security Directorate (KDGM) and its head, Muhammed Dervişoğlu, a former MİT officer, who was present at the Feb. 10 security meeting as well.

An HDP delegation that will also include pro-Kurdish independent deputy Leyla Zana is expected to travel to İmralı on Feb. 13.

A prominent politician who spent nine years in prison after being dragged out of parliament for speaking Kurdish in the 1990s, Zana was recently identified by Iraqi Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani as the person who carried out his letters to Öcalan and vice versa.

The joint statement mentioned by Yüksekdağ would be the first of its kind and is expected to be made by government officials, probably Akdoğan, and the HDP leadership.

The PKK launched an armed campaign in 1984 with the aim of carving out a Kurdish state out of Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria but subsequently changed its strategy to push for autonomous rights after the capture of its leader in Kenya in a joint MİT and CIA operation on Feb. 15, 1999. Some 40,000 people have been killed in the campaign, but since the start of the talks via Fidan, initiated by then-PM and current President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, there is a de facto cease-fire that has cut down on the violence.

The PKK leadership expects the joint statement to be made on the anniversary of Öcalan’s arrest, on Feb. 15, but neither government nor HDP sources confirmed the date to the Hürriyet Daily News, particularly with an eye to not making the issue controversial in the eyes of the public.