But this process had two handicaps; it lacked a roadmap on which to base bargaining, and the lust of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) to gain more bargaining power by stepping up violence. The PKK’s maximalist attitude and the government’s indecision regarding the content of the peace-package led to the entropy of the negotiation process. We returned to square one, namely violence and even wider counter-violence.
Massive arrests of Kurdish representatives on the grounds that they were accessories of a “terrorist outfit” (while the government was secretly negotiating with the same organization) and the Uludere bombing, in which 34 young Kurdish unarmed smugglers were accidentally killed, reinforced the alienation of the Kurds from the state. This vicious circle has to be broken.
At the same time as when the AKP government realized this stark truth, the main opposition party, the Republican People’s Party (CHP), came forward with a proposal: National reconciliation that would start on the floor of Parliament and extend to the public realm by forming a group made up of respected public opinion leaders who would draw up the parameters of a peace deal. This is not a roadmap because there is no consensus over where the road will lead to. It is merely the mechanism to determine how this consensus may be reached.
The CHP and AKP leaders’ agreement was promptly rejected by the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). So much for action! The Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), a pro-Kurdish organization that the government reluctantly agreed to take seriously as the representative of the dissident Kurds is yet to be invited to the process that is still in the making.
So far both the PKK and the BDP have been evading responsibility despite the fact that the PKK insisted on carrying on its armed assaults when PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan wanted the organization to halt hostilities because “he was at the brink of reaching a historic peace deal with the government.” But uncertain of its future following the end of hostilities, the PKK wanted a deal in which it would survive as an effective (armed) defense force in a regional administration it would control; it sabotaged the peace process by stepping up violence. In fact, the organization planned for a hot summer of violence.
However, intelligence reports that have surfaced in the press suggest that there is a tug of war among the PKK field commanders as to abandoning armed struggle or to go on as usual. The PKK command is reported to have conveyed its expectations to Massoud Barzani, the head of the autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Arbil (Iraq), as voiced by Mr. Sebgetullah Seydaoğlu, a former Kurdish deputy. (Taraf, June 11, 2012) The PKK has consented to the idea that the BDP would be the interlocutor rather than Öcalan. It also demands the following: a) the declaration of a general amnesty for all political prisoners; b) the investigation of crimes committed by official agents to crush the Kurdish resistance and their conclusion by punishing the perpetrators; c) the securing of constitutional guarantees on the use and teaching of the Kurdish language; d) the acceptance of BDP proposals to be incorporated into the new constitution.
All of these wishes/demands point to the fact that even radical Kurds do not want “out” (a separate Kurdistan); rather, they want “in” -- to have an equal status in Turkey run democratically that does not oppress any of its peoples just because they are not Turks.
If the two main parties agree on a roadmap incorporating the parameters put forth by the BDP (and its political hinterland), the next step has to be to convince the people at large that this is good for the country. The public will also need to understand that they should not be swayed by the provocations of the nationalists who say that it is a defeat or the plot of the imperialists who want to partition Turkey. Maybe this is the hardest part of the settlement, but the people in general are so fed up with this fratricide that they want a reasonable solution to minimize the damage done by the reductionist nation-building that never meshed with the pluralist reality of the country.