Turkish ruling party hints at new tools in peace process

Turkish ruling party hints at new tools in peace process

Turkish ruling party hints at new tools in peace process

Turkish soldiers stand on a hilltop overlooking the Syrian city of Kobane outside Suruç on the Turkey-Syria border. AP photo

Turkey’s government has hinted at its willingness to adopt new tools to break a deadlock in the Kurdish peace process as it and the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), the main stakeholder in the bid, look to put the dialogue back on track.

Beşir Atalay, deputy chair and spokesperson of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), declined to set an exact date when asked about the timing of “negotiations” at a press conference Nov. 13.

“The issue should not be a special date or a threshold, when speaking of a transition to negotiations,” Atalay said. “Anyhow, a roadmap and review of all of these and mutual contacts are all ongoing. New mechanisms could be established; they could be put in place as new particularities that are required by those endeavors,” Atalay said without elaborating.

There has been a stalemate in the peace process, which the government prefers calling the resolution process, particularly since the beginning of the battle for the Syrian border town of Kobane. The process is aimed at ending the three-decade long conflict between the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and Turkey’s security forces.

The PKK’s leader, Abdullah Öcalan, serving a life sentence on İmralı Island off the Sea of Marmara, has been in dialogue with both state officials and the then-Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) and the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) at least since late 2012 and is playing a central role in the process.

However, due to the recent tension, no parliamentary delegation has been able to visit Öcalan since Oct. 22. Both Öcalan and the HDP consider the process so far as a “dialogue” phase, and have urged the government to accelerate the process for a “transition into negotiations.”

Atalay notably appreciated remarks delivered by the HDP’s three-member parliamentary delegation that held a press conference on Nov. 12.

According to Atalay, a former deputy prime minister who has the resolution process in his portfolio, the HDP delegation’s remarks reflected that mistakes were made during street unrest that peaked on Oct. 6 and 7 that led to the deaths of dozens of people in clashes between rival groups, following protests over the government’s perceived inaction toward Syrian Kurds besieged by jihadists in Kobane.

“The dialogue channels that are blocked need to be opened at once and concrete steps for mechanisms of transition into negotiations without losing time need to be taken,” the HDP’s deputy parliamentary chair Pervin Buldan said Nov. 12 at the press conference to which Atalay referred.
 Atalay, meanwhile, voiced resolve that the peace process would continue advancing strongly from now on.

“The process will continue moving ahead in a strong way from now on. From now on, the process will proceed in a more transparent fashion. Determination and sincerity is very important. If there is a weakness of confidence, then problems will increase,” he said.

Buldan, delivering remarks to the state-run Anadolu Agency on Nov. 13, announced that she, along with the HDP’s other deputy parliamentary chair, İdris Baluken, and the HDP’s Istanbul deputy Sırrı Süreyya Önder, will be holding a meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Yalçın Akdoğan on Nov. 17.
All three lawmakers are frequent visitors of Öcalan as part of the process.

Baluken, also speaking to Anadolu Agency on Oct. 13, said they would raise the issues of “forming of negotiation conditions and implementing negotiation mechanisms,” during the meeting with Akdoğan.

A secretariat for Öcalan is only a part of those mechanisms, Baluken said, citing mechanisms such as “monitoring delegation” and “impartial referee board.”