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January 02, 2013, Wednesday

Cautious optimism

Politicians’ statements confirming that National Intelligence Organization (MİT) Undersecretary Hakan Fidan is carrying out ongoing talks with the jailed leader of the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Abdullah Öcalan, have dominated the public agenda lately.

Welcoming the news, columnists mostly emphasize that the government should remain cautious no matter what, considering the failed attempts in Oslo in 2010.

According to Radikal’s Eyüp Can, there is cautious optimism in Ankara about the renewed talks. It is a good thing to be very cautious to avoid great expectations because there have been well-intentioned attempts at meetings before, and these left people with a bitter taste as they yielded no result. Then what is our reason now to be even more hopeful about the talks, Can asks. “This time the government put Öcalan at the center of the solution process, making him the most important actor. Öcalan had no such central role in the previous meetings. To this end, the government even allowed Öcalan be the person ending the mass hunger strikes that Kurdish inmates recently staged and be the hero to further strengthen Öcalan’s influence within the PKK,” Can says. As for the main aim of the meetings, it is to come up with concrete steps to solve the Kurdish question and a roadmap that will result in the PKK laying down its arms.

Also, this time the government seems more determined to be more transparent. The content of the meetings -- if not all, some parts of them -- will be shared with the public immediately. It all looks great on paper. But both sides are aware of possible risks and neither wants to throw caution to the wind, the columnist notes.

Bugün’s Gülay Göktürk notes that Öcalan is merely a conditional interlocutor with regard to the Kurdish issue and that Öcalan knows that if he gives an order for his organization to attack, he will lose his position and be left alone in his cell again. He has the government’s attention as long as he contributes to the state’s aim of making the PKK lay down its arms, she emphasizes.

Roni Margulies from Taraf says just like saving the best food for the end of the meal, the best news of the year came at the end of it. Focusing on the Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) lack of support for the talks, Margulies says the CHP should definitely get involved in this process even it is for the sake of preventing the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) from boasting in the future, “We solved the Kurdish issue.”

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