Turkish gov’t, HDP herald ‘new phase’ in Kurdish peace process

Turkish gov’t, HDP herald ‘new phase’ in Kurdish peace process

Turkish gov’t, HDP herald ‘new phase’ in Kurdish peace process

HDP deputies Sırrı Süreyya Önder (R) and PErvin Buldan during a statement after visiting Deputy PM Yalçın Akdoğan in Ankara, Dec. 22.

Both the government and the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) have simultaneously announced that the stalled peace process has entered “a new phase,” with the latter emphasizing that the jailed leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) will assume a more central role in the new phase.

“The process is going on with a strong political will and determination. The meetings based on confidence and goodwill have accelerated in order to reach the final result,” Deputy Prime Minister Yalçın Akdoğan said in a message posted on his Twitter account yesterday following a meeting with a delegation from the HDP.

The meeting between Akdoğan and HDP Istanbul deputy Sırrı Süreyya Önder and HDP Deputy Parliamentary Group Chair Pervin Buldan followed a lengthy meeting held between the HDP delegation and jailed PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan on Dec. 17.

“We have passed through fragility which had begun with the Kobane resistance. As of today, we want to say that we have left a significant crisis behind,” Önder told reporters yesterday following the meeting with Akdoğan.

The HDP deputy was referring to the stagnation within the process since street violence in early October claimed dozens of lives in country-wide protests against the government’s perceived inaction over the Islamic Republic of Iraq and the Levant’s (ISIL) assault on the Kurdish-populated town of Kobane in northern Syria, near the border with Turkey.

“We want to tell that, from now on, we have entered a new, phase that will be İmralı-oriented,” Önder added, noting that all matters involving the peace process would be “rapidly” dealt with along this new phase.

İmralı is a byword for Öcalan, who is serving a life-sentence on the İmralı Island Prison in the Marmara Sea.

For the first time, some reconciliation has been achieved on topics which will be discussed to advance the process, Önder said, adding that they would first evaluate the situation within the party before going to İmralı. The HDP will subsequently discuss the issue with executives of the Kurdish Communities Union (KCK), a supra organization that includes the PKK.

Stating that the schedule for the process to proceed was “as soon as possible,” Önder said: “We have jointly experienced that once the time span is extended, then it becomes more open to misunderstandings. You will not hear dates of the months from us. A fast meeting and working schedule will start.”

Önder said the issue of laying down arms would be shared with the press when it reaches a certain level of maturity. “We have seen that discussing these kinds of topics through the media jeopardizes the process.”

The HDP is a key stakeholder in a government-led, though stalled, peace process aimed at ending the three-decade-old conflict between the PKK and Turkey’s security forces.

Öcalan has been in dialogue with state officials, the HDP and its predecessor, the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), since at least late 2012, and is already playing a central role in the process.

PKK militants took up arms in 1984 to fight for Kurdish independence but later revised that goal to autonomy in southeastern Turkey.

‘No obstacle for deep negotiations’
Following their meeting with Öcalan on Dec. 17, the HDP released a statement on Dec. 19 in which it stressed that intense talks among “İmralı, Kandil, the state and the government,” have been continuing.

Kandil is a byword for the other leaders of the PKK, whose headquarters are in the Kandil Mountains in northern Iraq.

“We have been notified that intense talks took place on İmralı between Mr. Öcalan and the state delegation during this process; and that there is no obstacle in front of transiting into significant and deep negotiations as a result of these meetings,” the HDP said Dec. 19 in regard to their Dec. 17 meeting with Öcalan.