World Bulletin / News Desk
National Intelligence Organization (MİT) Undersecretary Hakan Fidan is carrying out ongoing talks with the head of the militant Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), according to emerging details regarding the talks.
On Monday Yalçın Akdoğan, the chief advisor to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, said Turkey has begun discussing the laying down of arms with the militant PKK through talks with the imprisoned leader of the organization. The government had been in talks in recent months with Abdullah Öcalan, the PKK's jailed leader, to end a hunger strike by PKK members who were in prison, but Akdoğan's comment is the first confirmation that attempts to negotiate a wider peace settlement are on the agenda.
Abdülkadair Selvi, a Yeni Şafak columnist, shared information in his column on Tuesday with readers regarding the state of the talks based on his sources.
He noted that secret talks previously being held by the state stalled after a PKK attack in Silvan on July 14, 2011. The attack created the impression in the Turkish state that Öcalan was not earnest, as he had ordered an attack while talks were ongoing. Over the past year, state officials have not allowed visits from family or lawyers to İmralı Island, where Öcalan is being kept, in order to fend off other attacks. However, later on the government eased its policy of isolating Öcalan, and the prime minister restarted the process of dialogue. A key factor in this was Öcalan's intervening in November when hundreds of PKK members in prison started a hunger strike, ordering the protestors to stop on the 67th day of the strike. With the move, Öcalan in fact, according to Selvi, placed himself in the equation. The hunger strikes were stopped immediately, also putting an end to discussions on whether Öcalan really wielded power over the PKK. This was what led to the restart of negotiations. The first talk, which was made possible thanks to the efforts of MİT's Fidan, was in November. The second meeting was on Dec. 16, and Fidan was the person who carried out the negotiations. Selvi also noted that he was hopeful to set up a schedule in the peace process this time, as previous talks have taught Turkey that without end goals and a timetable, talks are unlikely to be fruitful.
Speaking about the talks, Akdoğan said the government is cautious about the prospects for progress, noting: "We have to see how Kandil [the PKK headquarters in northern Iraq] will react. … The organization [PKK] has also seen that it cannot get anywhere by waging an armed struggle."
According to Akdoğan, 2012 was a disaster for the PKK, which aimed to start a "Kurdish Spring" and bring clashes into cities but utterly failed to do so.
"The organization [PKK] announced 2012 as the year of victory, but it plainly became a disaster. It mobilized all its resources to fulfill its objective: to establish field control in rural areas and to push people into the streets for a revolutionary people's war," he said.
Akdoğan said Öcalan is still a key actor in settling the Kurdish question. Öcalan retains his influence over the organization, though there are strong signs that the leadership in the Kandil Mountains has challenged his rule on numerous occasions.
Negotiations with a group designated a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union would have been unthinkable only a few years ago.
But Erdoğan for his part is under pressure to stem the violence, which has included Kurdish bomb attacks in major cities as well as fighting in the mountainous Southeast.
Akdoğan said 10 terrorists were killed in fighting in southeastern Turkey on Monday.
Erdoğan's government has expanded cultural and language rights for Kurds, who make up around 20 percent of Turkey's population of 75 million, since taking power a decade ago.
But Kurdish politicians want greater political reform, including steps towards autonomy for their region.
Nationals of Syria, Morocco, Algeria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Palestine held across country
Turkey’s goal is to turn Suakin island into a center of attraction, says Cavusoglu
President says Turkey will make its red lines clear to everyone
Turkey's EU minister says fight against terror groups needs consistency
Gen. Akar’s visit comes a day after Turkish foreign minister met Jordan king, counterpart in capital Amman
Bahceli, leader of Turkish opposition MHP, says Turkey to stamp out terror from Afrin regardless of US conduct
Zaytuna village in Sharan district cleared of all YPG/PKK-ISIL terrorists
Turkish presidential spokesman says secret, dirty bargains between PYD/YPG, Bashar al-Assad regime can not be ruled out
BIST 100 rises 0.35 percent; USD/TRY exchange rate increases to 3.7670, euro-lira rate climbs to 4.6670
Foreign ministers to meet in Astana to discuss preparations for upcoming leaders summit on Syria in Istanbul
Operations were carried out in Istanbul, Eskisehir, Aydin, and Zonguldak provinces
Turkish, Russian leaders agree to continue cooperation, coordination in fight against terrorism
Turkish foreign minister held talks with his Jordanian counterpart in Amman
‘We do not see any reason that they [Assad regime’s forces] clash with our soldiers,’ says Erdogan Ozegen
969 undocumented migrants attempted to cross Turkish-Syrian and Turkish-Greek borders
Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu reasserts Turkey’s sensitivity towards Syria’s territorial integrity