Turkish dialogue move tested positive

It’s too bad that it was only the murder of three women that helped everyone understand it better - the majority of Turkish people, whether of Turkish or Kurdish origin, want an immediate end to violence on the way to a solution to the country’s chronic Kurdish problem.

Nobody yet knows 100 percent what or who is behind the Jan. 9 murders of three female members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Paris, right in the middle of a refreshed dialogue process between the Turkish government and the PKK’s imprisoned leader, Abdullah Öcalan. The investigation carried out by the French authorities has to make it clear whether it was a result of one of the frequent inner fights within the PKK or “an act of provocation” to undermine the dialogue process, as Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan says.

An end to the problem would mean a more stable, prosperous and strong Turkey in the region

Murat Yetkin
If it was a “provocation” there may be a number of suspects. According to the PKK it might even have been conducted by the Turkish security services, despite French investigators ruling this out. It is the head of the Turkish National Intelligence Organization (MİT), Hakan Fidan, who is leading the talks with Öcalan.

The Kurdish problem focused Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), which shares the same grassroots as the PKK, at first accused the Turkish “deep state,” but the rhetoric was softened after the return of the BDP officials from their contacts in Paris on the incident. Selahattin Demirtaş, the co-chairman of the BDP, who asked Turkey to solve the case a few days ago, is now asking France to do the same thing. However, more importantly, he says he does not want the dialogue process to be poisoned because of the murders. The BDP thinks that if it was indeed the “deep Turkish state,” it would be a victory for them to destroy the talks, an opportunity that has arisen after three decades of fighting against the PKK, which has cost more than 40,000 lives so far.

If the murders were “an act of provocation” then the “provocateurs” could well be agents (perhaps within the PKK) of countries that see no benefit from an end to violence and a possible end to the Kurdish problem in Turkey. An end to the problem would mean a more stable, prosperous and strong Turkey in the region. For the last century, the Kurdish problem has always had strong links to the energy and security game in the Middle East, so this could be anyone from Russia to Israel, from the oil giants to Iraq, but it should be kept in mind that Syria and Iran both have better ways and means to plant sleeping agents into the organization.

But if it was a provocation, it failed. The BDP, even with all its suspicions and anger, Prime Minister Erdoğan, the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, in fact the majority of Turkish political actors say the murders should not stop the dialogue with the PKK (with the exception of the Nationalist Movement Party, MHP, leader Devlet Bahçeli).

It means the idea of talking to the PKK to find a way to end violence for a lasting solution to the Kurdish problem in Turkey has tested positive; at least so far.

*This article was published in the Hurriyet Daily News on Jan. 14, 2013. Link: http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/dialogue-move-tested-positive.aspx?pageID=449&nID=38985&NewsCatID=409

(Murat Yetkin is the current editor-in-chief of Hurriyet Daily News and a columnist for Radikal, a Turkish publication. He is a political commentator on Turkish and Middle Eastern affairs and has previously worked for BBC World Service and AFP. He can be found on Twitter: @MuratYetkin2.)


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Last Update: Monday, 14 January 2013 KSA 06:04 - GMT 03:04
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