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January 18, 2013, Friday

First test on the long road to peace

Turkey on Thursday witnessed a peaceful funeral ceremony for three Kurdish women linked to the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) who were shot dead in Paris last week, a sign of determination and eagerness for peace.

Prior to the rally, there were fears of potential violence or agitation at the square -- as groups exist in the country that are seeking to sabotage ongoing talks between the government and PKK to end the country's terrorism problem and hopefully the Kurdish issue. One such incident occurred at the Habur border gate in 2009, when 34 PKK terrorists surrendered to state officials as a sign of goodwill, but were then welcomed by huge celebrations by Kurds who met them on the road, with images of the celebrations being presented in the media as a PKK triumph, causing public outrage in western Turkey. Luckily, no such incident occurred at Thursday's event.  

Both the Kurds who attended the rally and the state did quite well in Thursday's test, and they proved they are ready for peace, Taraf's Kurtuluş Tayiz says. Now what is left to do is to crown this spirit of peace by negotiating with the terrorist group. History put this responsibility on politicians' shoulders, and they will have the public behind them when fulfilling this responsibility.

Tayiz explains why Thursday was such a success and why the funeral did not turn into another “Habur failure.” He says it's because the experience in Habur taught us a lesson and made us more mature. But more importantly, it's because this time both sides are far more determined to achieve peace than they were back in 2009. No attempt at provocation can stand in the way of peace as long as we have this determination, Tayiz notes.

Thursday's test for sincerity to solve the Kurdish issue was the first of many tests we will see in this peace process, Can Dündar from Milliyet writes. We need to keep our caution and patience until the end of this very long road to peace, he says.

However, columnists mainly differ in their views about Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) leader Selahattin Demirtaş's remark. Demirtaş said during the ceremony that the state cannot hold peace talks with terrorists and fight against them at the same time. Tayiz thinks Demirtaş is right and that the state should lend an ear to what he says.

On the other hand, Star's Yalçın Akdoğan believes this is not the case. If the military drops its guard against terrorists, more provocative attacks would surely take place, like the one that was recently staged in Hakkari. He also emphasizes that slogans using a dichotomy of “war or peace between Kurds and Turks,” such as “We don't want war, we want peace,” are not right. Kurds and Turks have never been at war. And thus it is not true to say “Kurds don't want to fight anymore.” It's the same with making a distinction between the country's Kurdish and terrorism issues. Kurds may be fed up with terror or conflicts between the state and the PKK, but there has never indeed been a war between Turks and Kurds to end.


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