The other camp argues that the PKK does not want peace. Despite the fact that the organization has been emphasizing peace and encouraging negotiations, it uses the language of peace to win public opinion against the state and gain time. People from this camp cite many examples to prove that the PKK does not want peace because during peace talks, it was the very same PKK that interrupted the negotiations by staging terrorist attacks at critical moments.
Both camps have valid arguments. Yet the term peace has different meanings for different parties involved in the conflict. For the Turkish side, peace means that the PKK puts down its arms and enters politics and Kurds gain democratic rights. The term peace for the Kurdish nationalists, however, means to put PKK militants in posts in the system.
The ground for negotiations is therefore not there to begin negotiations. Many intellectuals who advocate negotiations argue that the PKK would really lay down its weapons if the state granted the Kurds rights. I, however, do not think this is what the PKK wants at this stage. The PKK wants to rule the region, and it is fighting for it. It is not fighting to have more Kurdish rights. The PKK simply argues that it was the PKK who brought to light Kurdish suffering and, therefore, the PKK should be the one to benefit from any developments to this end.
In fact, it is true that the PKK practically rules the region through municipalities, but what is missing on the PKK’s behalf is legitimized security institutions in the Kurdish region. That is what the PKK is fighting for.
If the Turkish state were ready to grant the PKK the right to act as the security forces of the region, then yes, indeed, negotiations would produce tangible results to bring peace. On many occasions, the PKK’s leadership has indicated what it means by peace. Just recently, the acting leader of the PKK, Murat Karayılan, sent a letter to the Taraf daily outlining the PKK’s demands.
“It is a fact that there is a guerilla system that has been established since 1984. Unlike the IRA or ETA, this force does not consist of only a few hundred militants. It consists of thousands of guerillas and militants. The very existence of this force is one of the realities of the Kurdish region. As a foundation of peaceful negotiations, we, the PKK, want this force to be regulated. The guerilla issue and the resolution for peace negotiations are closely related to each other. Those who do not see this reality cannot find a realistic solution to the Kurdish question. … This force went to the mountains for freedom, and it has never been defeated; on the contrary, millions of people have accepted its fight. … What you can do to this force is to integrate it into the system when parties [all those involved in the conflict] are solving the Kurdish question.”
No one has debated this aspect of Karayılan’s letter; however, it is an obvious fact that the PKK wants peace with the condition of installing PKK militants as part of an envisaged Kurdish security force. Under such a condition, it is very unlikely to think that negotiations with the PKK will produce peace.