DOIU – Uncertainties in the peace process

Uncertainties in the peace processFor the past two years the incumbent government has been discussing the future of Turkey with an armed organization that it still continues to call andldquoterrorist.andrdquo It is commonly called the andldquopeaceandrdquo or andldquosolution process.

andrdquoThe reaction of an uninformed outsider would be, andldquoIf the root cause of the problem is obstacles to participation and a lack of democratic rights, why do you negotiate the nature of the regime with an armed outfit?andrdquo Even this naive question reveals how the official view still sees the problem as a matter of security rather than progress in democratic standards.That is why the party chosen to negotiate the peace deal is the head of the andldquoterrorist outfit,andrdquo and what is negotiated is no more than a cease-fire rather than major structural changes that would make Turkey a much more pluralistic and deliberative democracy.

Alright then, what has been achieved so far, given this limited scope?Last Saturday a delegation of the Kurdish Peoplesand#39 Democratic Party (HDP) visited Abdullah calan, the leader of the Kurdistan Workersand#39 Party (PKK), to speak about expectations for the PKK regarding the declaration of lasting demobilization. Press organs close to the government have lately been hinting at such a surprise, but without offering substantiation.

The HDP delegation returned from the prison island of ImralI after meeting with calan not with the expected good tidings but with a more sophisticated plan for formal negotiations. No doubt this outcome has disturbed the government, which wanted to secure tranquility before the approaching summer elections.

Unlike the government, which desires to secure an instant triumph in stripping the PKK of its arms, the leader of the organization wants to go step by step through a series of well-organized negotiations that are legally sanctioned.Secondly, calan expects action on the part of the government before a lasting cease-fire is put into effect.

Official promises so far have been verbal and lack the legal clout necessary to ensure compliance from organs of the government.Another expectation of the Kurdish side is a andldquothird eyeandrdquo to watch over the negotiations.

This third element will consist of experts and intellectuals who will bear witness to what transpires, keep track of promises and oversee implementation. So far the government has not evinced a positive or negative attitude concerning a third party in the process, which is being kept under its strict control.

In return, the government has a sine qua non for further steps to be taken: andldquothe restoration of public security.andrdquo This means the PKKand#39s absolute inaction in the Kurdish-majority provinces.

The statement of the delegation carrying calanand#39s message bears three points that require reciprocal action by the government:1. Draft framework for negotiations: calan wants to raise the level of contact he has had so far with bureaucrats to formal negotiations involving politicians.

We have learned that calan has prepared a andldquoDraft for Peace and Democratic Negotiationsandrdquo and shared it with government officials who in turn have endorsed it. Thus there is now a blueprint in hand by which the PKK can officially negotiate with state delegations.

2 calan not only wants a legal foundation for negotiations but also to see the realization of ensuing implementation, which would mean substantial reforms. This requires parliamentary involvement in the form of lawmaking.

Recalling the tragic outcomes of former peace efforts without proper legal frameworks, calan is insisting on parliamentary approval of further contact and implementation. He is especially hesitant to withdraw PKK militants from Turkish soil without due changes, which were promised but never carried out.

Hence, the expected tidings of lasting peace and an end to hostilities have been made conditional to the legal status of negotiations and due changes following each step of the process. Only then can the andldquopeace process that will determine the fate of the Middle East andhellip be realized within a matter of four to five months.

andrdquoWhat if calanand#39s expectations are not met? He has laid out a third point:3. andldquoRegional chaos will deepen, and the possibility of a coup may emerge.

andrdquo This statement is not only a warning but a threat.It has become evident that the peace process is neither to be taken for granted nor under total control of the government.

The Kurds have gained clout and become visible in the Middle East. Furthermore, general elections are approaching in Turkey.

The government needs a safe and secure environment to win another electoral victory. Given these circumstances it is obvious that negotiations with the PKK will not be as easy as expected.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman