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January 06, 2013, Sunday

Hopes and PKK talks

Ongoing talks with jailed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan to resolve Turkey's long-standing Kurdish problem have raised hopes once again about the settlement of this pressing problem, which has claimed the lives of more than 40,000 people over the past three decades.

There is agreement that the Turkish state has a stronger hand in the talks due to its successful fight against the PKK, and everyone has a cautious optimism about the fate of the talks.

According to Star's Sedat Laçiner, Turkey has taken the necessary lessons from its past failure in negotiations with the PKK and has a stronger hand now at the negotiating table because it has caused serious damage to the terrorist organization over the past months. He thinks Turkey has shown the PKK, which had big losses recently, that even if it fights for 300, not 30, years, it will achieve nothing. Calling on everyone to be cautiously optimistic about the fate of the talks, Laçiner says he is neither in the group of people who think the Kurdish problem has ended, nor in the other group who think talks with the PKK signal the division of Turkey. “I think the best thing to do is to have cautious optimism, but not to ease security measures and in fact, even address security shortcomings. We should keep it in mind that the key to peace lies in the weapons of the security forces to a certain extent,” says Laçiner. In his view, the government is taking a big risk by talking to the PKK, but the potential gains

or Turkey if peace can be achieved make it obligatory for the government to take this risk.

Bugün's Vedat Bilgin believes Turkey has foiled the bloody games of the PKK by waging a determined and effective fight, which made today's negotiations possible. “The fact that Turkey understood the terrorist organization's strategy and cracked down on the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK), an umbrella organization which encompasses the PKK, played a key role in this,” he explains. In his view, the fact that Turkey's fight against the PKK has been so successful and the terrorist organization's own failure have brought the PKK to the negotiating table with the state.

Zaman's Mustafa Ünal also thinks the negotiation process with the PKK started after Turkey's effective fight against the PKK, which is well organized and supported by intelligence. “Timing [of the negotiations] is very appropriate. The fight against terrorism is not won only in the field, it should be supported by negotiations,” he says, adding that there is a cautious optimism among those on the side of the government, which seeks to not repeat mistakes of the past negotiations.

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