Solution process

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Solution process (Turkish: Çözüm süreci),[1] also known as the Kurdish–Turkish peace process,[2] was a peace process, which had aimed to resolve the long-running Kurdish–Turkish conflict (1978-present). The conflict has been ongoing since 1984 and resulted in some 40,000-100,000 mortal casualties and great economic losses for Turkey as well as high damage to the Kurdish population. Though there was a unilateral cease-fire between 1999 and 2004, the sides failed to gain understanding and the conflict became increasingly violent. The 2013 truce was working until September 2014, when the relations became strained due to spillover of the Syrian Civil War; the truce fully collapsed in July 2015, with the renewed full-scale warfare in South-Eastern Turkey.

Background[edit]

The Kurdish–Turkey conflict is an armed conflict between the Republic of Turkey and various Kurdish groups,[3] which have demanded freedom from Turkey to create an independent Kurdistan,[4][5] or to have autonomy[6][7] and greater political and cultural rights for Kurds inside the Republic of Turkey.[8] The main rebel group is the Kurdistan Workers' Party[9] or PKK (Kurdish: Partiya Karkerên Kurdistan‎), which is considered a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the United States,[10] the European Union[11] and NATO.[12] However, neither the United Nations nor countries such as Switzerland, India, China, Russia and Egypt have accepted the PKK as a terrorist organization.[13][14][15][16] Although insurgents have carried out attacks in many regions of Turkey,[17] the insurgency is mainly in southeastern Turkey.[18] The PKK's military presence in Iraq's Kurdistan Region, which it uses as launchpad for attacks on Turkey, has resulted in the Turkish military carrying out frequent ground incursions and air and artillery strikes in the region,[19] as the Kurdistan Regional Government claimed they do not have sufficient military forces to prevent the PKK from operating.[20] The conflict has particularly affected Turkey's tourism industry[21] and has cost the Economy of Turkey an estimated 300 to 450 billion dollars, mainly military expenses.[22]

Since the PKK was founded on November 27, 1978,[23] it has been involved in armed clashes with Turkish security forces. The full-scale insurgency however, did not begin until August 15, 1984 when the PKK announced a Kurdish uprising. The first insurgency lasted until September 1, 1999 [5][24] when the PKK declared a unilateral cease-fire. The armed conflict was later resumed on June 1, 2004, when the PKK declared an end to its cease-fire.[25][26] Since summer 2011, the conflict has become increasingly violent with resumption of large-scale hostilities.[22]

Developments[edit]

On the eve of 2012 (28 December), in a television interview upon a question of whether the government had a project to solve the issue, Erdoğan stated that the government was in negotiations with jailed rebel leader Öcalan.[27] The negotiations were initially named the Solution Process (Çözüm Süreci) in public. While negotiations were going on, there were numerous events that were regarded as sabotage to derail the talks: Assassination of three Kurdish PKK administrators in Paris (one of them is Sakine Cansız),[28] revealing Öcalan's talks with Kurdish party to public via the Milliyet newspaper[29] and finally, the bombings of the Justice Ministry of Turkey and Erdoğan's office at the Ak Party headquarters in Ankara.[30] However, both parties vehemently condemned all three events as they occurred and stated that they were determined anyways. Finally on 21 March 2013, after months of negotiations with the Turkish Government, Abdullah Ocalan's letter to people was read both in Turkish and Kurdish during Nowruz celebrations in Diyarbakır. The letter called a cease-fire that included disarmament and withdrawal from Turkish soil and calling an end to armed struggle. PKK announced that they would obey, stating that the year of 2013 is the year of solution either through war or through peace. Erdoğan welcomed the letter stating that concrete steps will follow PKK's withdrawal.

On 25 April 2013, PKK announced that it withdraws all its forces within Turkey to Northern Iraq.[31] According to government[32] and to The Kurds[33] and to the most of the press,[34] this move marks the end of 30-year-old conflict. Second phase which includes constitutional and legal changes towards the recognition of human rights of the Kurds starts simultaneously with withdrawal.[35]

Wise people committee[edit]

The government announced its long-awaited list of “wise men” on April 4, the members of a seven-region commission tasked with explaining the ongoing settlement process with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) to the public and promoting the negotiations. Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç announced the list of “wise people”, several weeks after the government first announced plans to set up such a commission made up of intellectuals and well-liked public figures.

The list includes celebrities who are intellectuals, writers and academics as well as singers such as Orhan Gencebay. The commission is made up of groups organized on a regional basis, and will be active in seven regions across the country. On Tuesday, while mystery still shrouded the identities of the government’s list of wise people, Erdoğan said, “We will listen to the views and suggestions of the people who are part of this delegation, consult with them and they will organize some events in [the country’s] regions and get together with our citizens and local public opinion leaders.” In a speech on March 23, the prime minister defined the role of the commission, saying they will be conducting a “psychological operation,” indicating the wise people will act as public relations agents. In a speech he made in Ankara on March 23, Erdoğan stated, “It is important to prepare the public for this and social perceptions should be created by the wise men.” He said only public acceptance can fend off nationalistic shows.

The Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) were critical of the wise men list, claiming that the people on the list are all supportive of the government. On April 5, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan met for the first time with members of the wise men commission.[36] After five weeks of work, the Wise Persons committee gave its first report to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and shared their impressions on the level of support regarding the process. The meeting lasted over four hours.[37]

Members of wise people committee classified by region:

Timeline[edit]

  • Wednesday 28 December 2012: Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan revealed that the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) had been visiting Abdullah Öcalan to find a solution to end the conflict.
  • Thursday 3 January 2013: Ahmet Türk and BDP deputy Ayla Akat Ata went to İmralı island where they met Abdullah Öcalan.
  • Wednesday 9 January 2013: Founding member of the PKK Sakine Cansız and Kurdish activists Fidan Doğan and Leyla Söylemez were assassinated in Paris.[38]
  • Thursday 14 February 2013: The Turkish government has announced that a second delegation of BDP members will be meeting with Öcalan.[39]
  • Friday 15 February 2013: Erdogan said that the negotiations between MIT and Ocalan would be more accurate if it's called 'Solution process' rather than as 'Imralı process'.[40]
  • Saturday 23 February 2013: BDP deputy parliamentary group chair Pervin Buldan, Istanbul deputy Sırrı Süreyya Önder and Diyarbakır deputy Altan Tan went to Öcalan’s prison on İmralı island. The delegation, which was granted special authorization by the Ministry of Justice to hold deliberations with Abdullah Öcalan, heard out the PKK leader's proposed roadmap for the government to put an end to the issue of terrorism in the country. Öcalan also passed on letters to Kandil, the PKK's European administration and to the public via the BDP delegation.[41]
  • Thursday 28 February 2013: Daily Milliyet published a story by Namık Durukan claiming to be what was partially discussed between imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan and the three members of the Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party during their visit to Imrali.[42]
  • Monday 11 March 2013: A six-person delegation has left Diyarbakır to meet the eight public workers to be released by PKK in Iraq. The delegation includes the president of Human Rights Association (IHD) and the Chairman of Mazlumder.[43]
  • Wednesday 13 March 2013: The PKK freed eight Turkish prisoners held for two years in Iraq. The release of the eight captives came after a request by Öcalan.[44]
  • Monday 18 March 2013: Kurdish parliamentarians set off by boat to visit Abdullah Ocalan in his island prison. The delegation includes BDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş, deputies Pervin Buldan and Sırrı Süreyya Önder.[45]
  • Thursday 21 March 2013: After months of negotiations with the Turkish Government, Abdullah Ocalan's letter to people was read both in Turkish and Kurdish during Nowruz celebrations in Diyarbakır. The letter called a cease-fire that included disarmament and withdrawal from Turkish soil and calling an end to armed struggle.[46]
  • Friday 29 March 2013: Erdoğan said that PKK militants who withdraw from Turkey will have to lay down their arms before crossing the border in order to prevent further confrontation. He also said "that when they go, the atmosphere of my country will change when we realize the economic boom in the east [after the withdrawal].”[47]
  • Wednesday 3 April 2013: Turkey has set up a consultative body of "wise people" to help shape public opinion on the peace process with the PKK.[48]
  • Thursday 4 April 2013: Republican People's Party (CHP) and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) announced that they would not take part in a commission that would be established to assess the solution process for Kurdish issue within the parliament. Both CHP and MHP said they would not send members to that commission.[49] Erdoğan met on for the first time with members of the wise men commission, tasked with explaining to the public the ongoing settlement process with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and to promote the negotiations.[50]
  • Saturday 20 April 2013: Sırrı Süreyya Önder said that PKK withdrawal will start in eight to 10 days.[51]
  • Thursday 25 April 2013: PKK announced that it withdraws all its forces within Turkey to Iraq on May 8.[31]
  • Wednesday 8 May 2013: PKK members start withdrawal from Turkey.[52] A parliamentary commission - in charge of researching the means of societal peace and determine on the ongoing resolution process in Turkey - has held its first meeting last night, pledging to inform the public more on the process and launch investigations in Turkey and abroad.
  • Thursday 9 May 2013: The wise people committee gave its first report to Erdoğan and shared their impressions on the level of support regarding the process.[53]
  • Saturday 27 September 2014: The PKK shot two police officers, accused Turkey of supporting ISIS and saw Turkey responsible for 2015 Suruç bombing.[54][55]
  • 24 July 2015: Turkish military begins large-scale military Operation Martyr Yalçın against PKK and ISIL, resulting in PKK's announcement on resumption of full-scale hostilities.

Public opinion[edit]

On March 21, 2013, a public opinion survey carried out by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) suggests that almost 57.7 percent of people support ongoing government-sponsored efforts for the settlement of the conflict with PKK. While 10 percent declined to comment, slightly more than 22 percent said they do not support the process. The results of the survey were discussed in a meeting held at AK Party headquarters. According to the survey, the highest support for the government efforts to end Kurdish-Turkish conflict comes from the Southeast,[56] with 81 percent. The Southeast is followed by the East, with 77 percent. However, the support is lower in the other regions. In Marmara and Central Anatolia, roughly 59 percent of participants in the survey said they support the settlement process, while 49 percent of respondents in the Mediterranean said the same. In the Aegean region, 44 percent of respondents expressed support for the peace talks, and 43 percent in the Black Sea region expressed support.[56]

In early May, the amount of supporters increased to 70 percent according to a survey carried out by the AK Party, while a survey conducted by the Konda research company showed that the amount of supporters increased to 81.3 percent.[57]

See also[edit]

External source[edit]

A visual taxonomy of the Kurdish Peace Process

References[edit]

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