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January 24, 2013, Thursday

Shadow cast over peace plans

The last couple of weeks have seen tremendous developments regarding the country's decades-old terrorism and Kurdish issues.

In a much-applauded move, the government has revived its peace talks with terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan. However, soon after the talks began, terrorist attacks brought into question whether there are some wings within the terrorist group that want to sabotage the peace efforts -- the latest one being in Paris, where three Kurdish women were killed on Jan. 9.

The killings in Paris once again showed how challenging and complicated process is we are going through and that the PKK has intricate ties with many states, Star's Sedat Laçiner writes. The PKK is not just about the Kurdish issue and Kurdish nationalism, and it is also not just a separatist terrorist organization. The PKK has many intertwined operations in various fields from drug trafficking and smuggling to politics and foreign intelligence agencies. Those who benefit from these operations will surely resist the peace efforts.

On the other hand, the state is having difficulty in finding the right time, or rather a peaceful time, to prove its sincerity in solving the Kurdish issue with reforms for Kurds. There are many reforms the state has in mind, but terrorism has to end before taking solid steps towards them, the columnist says. The state's ultimate aim is not to destroy the terrorist group altogether -- as we have realized through past experience that the more terrorists are killed, the more terrorist acts increase. Instead, the state aims to persuade terrorists to give up terrorism.

In this sense, the first aim of the peace talks is to get the PKK to move outside of Turkey. This way, the government will buy time to earn the respect and confidence of the Kurds with cultural, economic, political and social reforms. The plan seems reasonable and feasible on paper, Laçiner says. However, the “beneficiaries of the PKK operations” mentioned above persistently continue trying to derail this plan as they are worried the PKK will be disbanded once it is drawn out of Turkey and that it will be impossible to form a new organization similar to it. Laçiner says this is why optimism is good, but optimism without realism will only end up deceiving us.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan recently said he guarantees that no military operation will be put into action against the terrorists when they move their camps outside Turkey. In response, a senior PKK chief, Murat Karayılan, said: “This is our country. It is you who came later. You are the occupying force in this country. And so it is you that should leave.”

In line with Laçiner's call for caution, Fikret Bila from Milliyet says it is difficult to expect much from the peace talks in light of Karayılan's remarks. It is more important now that the PKK commanders in Kandil reach an agreement with Öcalan than the state reaching a reconciliation with Öcalan, he underlines.

Previous articles of the columnist