On Saturday, two parliamentarians from the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) recited PKK founder and imprisoned leader Abdullah Öcalan's latest letter, in which he declared "our 40-year-old armed struggle has become unsustainable" and called upon the Kurdish political movement to disarm. The declaration followed months of talks between government officials, Öcalan, HDP representatives and the organization's operational command stationed on the Qandil Mountains in Iraq. At this point, Turkey remains on the verge of ending one of its bloodiest conflicts of the 20th century and overcoming the final hurdle before the country can concentrate on its objectives for the 21st century.
There is little doubt that the Kurdish reconciliation process has radically transformed the country's political landscape and gave the nation a much-needed push to move past former taboos relating to multiculturalism in the broadest sense. Over the past years, the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) has turned a major political risk into the crown jewel of its platform. With almost no casualties suffered, in over three years, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu will no doubt remind voters of his government's greatest accomplishments. Closing a sad chapter in the nation's history, as it were.
At the same time, the Kurdish political movement remains eager to forget the long 20th century, which started out with the dream of a Kurdish homeland and ended in tears. In more than one country, the Kurds became the target of massacres, torture and cultural assimilation. For many Kurds today, the promise of a new chapter represents hope- not necessarily a piece of land but the pursuit of upward mobility and equality. Despite the logistical challenges, they stand to gain as much from ending bloodshed as every other citizen of Turkey. And although many acknowledge vast political differences between themselves and the AK Party, hardly anyone can locate another counterpart in this tricky affair.
There are, of course, naysayers who will go to great lengths to argue that the Kurdish reconciliation process will fail because the government is either insincere or not interested in peace. With every step in the right direction, however, the prospect of Turkish conservatives bringing peace to the country becomes scarier. The situation has now gotten so dire that a renowned columnist in anti-government daily Radikal has developed the ultimate argument: By running a word count on Öcalan's written statements from Nevruz 2013, 2014 and 2015, she concluded that the PKK leader was "running out of words" - which she assured like-minded readers, meant that the talks would prove inconclusive.
Others have been quick to declare that the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) was divided on key provisions of talks. Since the government and HDP representatives issued a joint declaration at Dolmabahçe Palace, a number of media outlets have taken the statements of President Recep Erdoğan and others out of context to suggest that the talks would not last. Meanwhile, the main point raised by a number of the initiative's supporters was that the talks must not serve as a source of popularity for the Kurdish political movement and that dialogue with aggrieved social groups must extend beyond the Kurdish community. Time, no doubt, will show that the nation's commitment to peace will outweigh those craving blood.