Turkey's political leaders discuss how to
end Kurdish insurgency
By Dorian Jones - VOA
June 7, 2012
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan,
April 5, 2012.
— How to resolve a more than three-decade Kurdish
insurgency in Turkey was the topic of a rare meeting
Wednesday between the country's prime minister and
main opposition political leader.
The one-hour meeting between Turkey's Prime Minister
Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the leader of the main
opposition People's Republican Party Kemal
Kilicdaroglu was described as positive by both
sides. The talk focused on the opposition initiative
to bring an end to the insurgency by the Kurdistan
Workers Party, which says it is fighting for greater
One of the architects of the initiative, Farok
Logoglu, said the meeting was productive.
He says the opposition will be flexible in its
approach and is ready to negotiate.
The 10-point plan includes creating a cross-party
commission and a 12 person committee selected by the
four parliamentary parties.
The country's pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party
BDP has already expressed its support. Ruling AK
Party Deputy Chairman Omer Celick welcomed the
initiative, but questioned how political consensus
can be achieved.
He said his party is in principle not against the
proposal that all parties participate in a
commission. But he said the biggest hurdle will be
getting all to participate. He said there well may
be strong opposition from the National Action Party,www.ekurd.net
but their participation is crucial.
Before Wednesday's meeting, the leader of the
pro-nationalist National Action Party, Devlet
Bahceli, condemned the intiative, saying it rewards
The conflict has escalated in recent months, with
the Kurdish PKK rebels stepping up operations. The
government has taken an increasingly tough stance
since its own Kurdish initiative ended in failure
and mutual recrimination.
In addition, during last year's general election
Prime Minister Erdogan courted the Turkish
nationalist vote with a tough stance against the PKK,
declaring there is only a terrorism problem. Since
his victory he has maintained that position.
But political columnist Asli Aydintasbas of the
Turkish newspaper Milliyet says this is the first
opposition initiative on the Kurdish issue.
"This is the first time they [are] actually being
progressive and taking the Kurdish issue and forcing
the government to sit down and start thinking of
ways to address that. The two leaders really do not
like each other, but sometimes things have the
dynamics of their own. It may just change the
atmosphere and climate in the country," Aydintasbas
Another factor driving the initiative may be growing
regional turmoil. Turkey's predominantly Kurdish
southeast borders Syria and Iraq, which also have
large Kurdish minorities.
Kadir Has University international-relations expert
Soli Ozel says Ankara needs a new approach as the
country's Kurdish problem is no longer just a
"Iraqi Kurds, in all but name, are independent.
Syrian Kurds are going to have a different status no
matter how the debacle in Syria ends. And the
Kurdish issue has become a trans-national, regional
issue, a trans-border issue, and with an increasing
level of national consciousness," Ozel said.
Ankara has accused Damascus of giving PKK rebels a
free hand in its territory. The ruling AK party has
warned the latest initiative to end the insurgency
should be given weeks, not months, to achieve
political consensus. Observers say that maybe
difficult, but with the region facing growing
turmoil the pressure to end the insurgency is likely
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