MERVE BÜŞRA ÖZTÜRK

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MERVE BÜŞRA ÖZTÜRK
February 25, 2013, Monday

Possible roadmap of peace process

Although no definite information regarding the content of the visit of three Kurdish lawmakers from the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) to İmralı Island to meet with jailed leader of the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) Abdullah Öcalan has yet been revealed, Turkish columnists mostly wrote about their expectations and speculations about the meeting of Öcalan and the BDP delegation.

Saturday's visit came as part of ongoing "peace talks" between state authorities and the PKK that the state believes may lead to a timetable for the withdrawal of PKK terrorists from Turkey and their eventual disarmament.

Radikal's Eyüp Can says there are many questions about the meeting. What did the delegation tell Öcalan? And what did Öcalan tell the delegation? How long did it last? What happened to the letters Öcalan was supposed to give the deputies to then give to other senior PKK leaders? The answers to these questions will be revealed in time. But the roadmap of the negotiations has been known from the beginning, says Can. According to the columnist, there are four steps in the roadmap. The first is ending the conflict between PKK and the security forces. This will happen with the command of Öcalan. The second is moving PKK camps outside of Turkey. This is the most-emphasized provision, because Öcalan knows that an atmosphere of trust won't develop unless PKK terrorists are safely withdrawn from the country. The third step is negotiations for the PKK to lay down its arms. If the first two steps are taken successfully, negotiations to disarm the terrorist group will then begin. The fate of the negotiations will depend on the content of the new constitution currently being drafted. In other words, negotiations depend on whether the constitution includes a new definition of citizenship, an article regarding access to education in one's mother tongue and an article strengthening local administrations. Three parties represented in Parliament have almost reached consensus over these three articles. And the fourth step is for the terrorist organization to lay down its arms. This is a long process, Can says, and the first step is being taken with the BDP's visit to İmralı. Later, Öcalan is expected to call on the organization to have a cease-fire on March 21, marking the Nevruz spring festival, a meaningful occasion as Nevruz symbolizes peace, the Radikal columnist says.

Abdülkadir Selvi from Yeni Şafak writes that if we crown this process with a new and more democratic constitution, we can turn it into a process of transformation from an old Turkey to a new one. We have the right atmosphere for this, Selvi says. Regional actors, Europe's deep states, which re-emerged with the murder of Kurdish women in Paris and the bomb attack on the US Embassy in Ankara, or the PKK wings that do not want to disarm will continue trying to hamper the process. But what is most important is the strength of Ankara's willingness for a solution. Öcalan is simply trying to figure this out right now. We stand at a historic crossroads, and we will either build our own future or miss a historic opportunity at the end of this process, the columnist notes.

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