Turkish gov't change method in talks with PKK

Turkish gov
# 16 January 2013 00:39 (UTC +04:00)

Baku-APA. The Turkish government has changed methods in recent talks with the outlawed Kurdish Workers' Party ( PKK), but the political goals remain the same, analysts said, APA reports quoting Xinhua.

The Turkish government has been engaging in a new round of peace talks with Abdullah Ocalan, imprisoned PKK leader, in the hope of ending three-decade insurgency.

In previous peace talks, the government faced communication problems when Ocalan's lawyers delivered his messages to PKK militants based in northern Iraq, Nihat Ali Ozcan, expert on terrorism with the Economic Policy Research Institute (TEPAV), told Xinhua on Tuesday.

"As they had problems with the messengers, the government now prefers direct communication with Ocalan," said Ozcan. "The government is more cautious taking its steps."

The government has prevented the imprisoned Kurdish leader to meet his lawyers since 2011, saying Ocalan used them for propaganda.

Ozcan said the peace process include that "the PKK lay down arms" and that "the Turkish government reply with constitutional steps."

A parliamentary commission has been drafting a new constitution since June 2011 to replace the 1982 charter of the military era.

Kurdish politicians have called for education in Kurdish, decentralization in local governance and redefining Turkish citizenship to reflect Kurdish identity.

Previous talks between Turkish intelligence officials and Ocalan failed in 2011 over a PKK attack in Silvan town of southeastern Diyarbakir province which killed 13 Turkish soldiers. Talks with the PKK leader, who is serving a life sentence on Imrali Island, resumed in late 2012.

Ozcan expected the new talks to face multiple difficulties in the long term, since the government has to make legal amendments to fulfill the demands of Kurds.

The Turkish government's peace initiative has already received severe criticism. Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahceli claimed that the talks with the PKK chief are the first step of "the project of separating Turkey," and accused the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) of "cooperating with terrorists."

Since the AKP came to power in 2002, it has expanded political and cultural rights for Turkey's estimated 15 million Kurds to create a basis for the solution to the three-decade insurgency that has claimed tens of thousands of lives.

Kurdish politicians also accuse the government of escalating tensions through the arrests and trials of thousands of Kurdish politicians, journalists, lawyers and others.

The AKP, led by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has been working on a judicial reform package which will redefine " terrorism." Most of the arrested Kurds are expected to be released after the new legislation.

The PKK, listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union, took up arms in 1984 in an attempt to create an ethnic homeland in southeastern Turkey. Since then, more than 40,000 people have been killed in conflicts involving the group.