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October 19, 2012, Friday

Good news

Reports claiming that President Abdullah Gül received a delegation from the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) at the Çankaya presidential palace on Oct. 9 to discuss the country’s Kurdish issue have been regarded as “good news” by many columnists.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has signaled that new talks with the jailed leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Abdullah Öcalan, might be possible as part of a solution to Turkey’s terrorism problem.

However, Bugün’s Ahmet Taşgetiren questions whether the BDP really wants to be independent from the PKK and take up the role of interlocutor in the Kurdish question. He believes it does not because the BDP knows well that even if it wanted to take up such a role, the terrorist organization would not allow it to do so. After all, if the BDP cut ties with the terrorist organization, all Kurds would support the BDP instead of the PKK. The terrorist organization would never want such a thing and the political party would never take such a risk, he asserts.

Ahmet Altan of the Taraf daily began his article by saying that we have needed good news and hope for a long time and that finally there is some -- the meeting. He believes that Öcalan still has the power to play an effective role in stopping the ongoing clashes and says what he understands from Erdoğan’s statement is that a secret negotiation with Öcalan has already been begun but that “official meetings” will start and be revealed once more solid steps are taken.

Another columnist from Taraf, Kurtuluş Tayiz, argues that the reason why Turkey’s Kurdish question has lingered for so long is because Turkey lacks a Nelson Mandela-like figure. Today, we have Öcalan for a Mandela, but his authority over the organization is indeed questionable. When Öcalan came closest to being a successful Mandela, he was caught and jailed on İmralı Island. When he announced that he was about to make an agreement with the state on behalf of the Kurds two years ago, an attack took place in Diyarbakır’s Silvan district and ruined all of his efforts for peace. The reason the prospect of a meeting between the government and Öcalan should be brought to the agenda once more is because Turkey needs a Kurdish Mandela who will have power both over both the pro-Kurdish political centers and the terrorist organization and will be able to solve this long-standing question. The government may give the green light to transfer Öcalan to house arrest to this end, but such a move cannot be done without a promise from the PKK to silence its arms.

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