The Kurdish reconciliation process has survived a number of attempts to derail the talks since the government first announced the initiative in December 2012. Immediately after the formal announcement, the murder of three PKK members in Paris sought to put pressure on the efforts but instead worked to effectively strengthen the commitment of both parties. Later, an anonymous source leaked the minutes of a meeting between PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan and a delegation of Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) parliamentarians in an attempt to undermine public support for the talks - to no avail. Thus far, both Turks and Kurds have rallied behind the reconciliation process and effectively encouraged the political actors engaging in dialogue. The public's support for the reconciliation process increased as the PKK's decision to declare a cease-fire and withdraw from Turkish soil brought violence to an end. In the wake of the declining number of acts of violence and terror, Turkey's society sought to foster the hope for social peace and started to put pressure on politicians.
The Kurdish reconciliation process attempted to help the most organized opposition group in Turkey make peace with the political process. At the same time, the initiative helped alleviate the effects of other negative developments. It was arguably this effort that stopped two major attacks against the government, i.e., the Gezi Park protests and the Dec. 17 operations, short of causing political instability. If anything, the Gezi Park protests of June 2013 strengthened the determination of both parties to continue the talks. Meanwhile, the reconciliation process evolved into a strategic alliance between political elites and their supporters by discouraging the participation of the Kurdish community in the demonstrations. A subsequent attack, the Gülen Movement's attempt to overthrow the government on Dec. 17 and Dec. 25, further consolidated this alliance and showcased the concrete results of dialogue.
Throughout the reconciliation process, the Kurdish political movement, which has strong ties with the PKK, has failed to take necessary steps despite its verbal commitment to the talks. At once, the group waited to observe how resilient the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) could remain in the face of challenges and sought to exploit the perceived opportunities that the Syrian civil war demanded. Both developments, in turn, had an overall negative effect on the reconciliation process, the core principle of which relates to the replacement of armed struggle with political struggle. At the same time, the PKK has ceased the withdrawal of its militants from Turkish soil, kept its social base alert and, where the organization enjoyed popular support, and assumed an aggressive stance toward the AK Party and others to prevent their activities.
The March 30 local elections and the Aug. 10 presidential contest established that the AK Party government succeeded in overcoming a range of challenges and consolidated its political power in the process. In light of these developments, the government took a number of steps in the aftermath of the local elections to rekindle the reconciliation process. Primarily, the AK Party sponsored legislation to establish a legal framework for the talks, which had been a priority item on Öcalan's agenda for quite some time. As such, Parliament authorized the executive branch and the bureaucracy to create any mechanisms necessary to continue the talks. Subsequently, the Council of Ministers identified a clear road map that was published in the Official Gazette. At the same time, a number of political talks between the AK Party government and the leadership of the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), the BDP's successor, led to mutual agreement on a final road map.
One would think that such major developments would have led the PKK to revise its decision to slow down the reconciliation process, which reflected the organization's second thoughts about the AK Party's political future. The developments in Syria including the ISIS assaults against Kobani have, however, worked to make the PKK more doubtful about the talks. Assuming that the situation in Syria would require military intervention and knowing that the successful completion of the talks would entail political costs, the organization instead attempted to identify the AK Party government with ISIS militants and sought to compensate for the developments in Syria by resorting to street violence from Oct. 6 to Oct. 8.
These protests remain the potentially most damaging development over the course of the Kurdish reconciliation process. First and foremost, this effort represented a violation of two key principles, namely non-violence and commitment to political struggle, that form the basis of the talks and were the basic reasons behind society's support for dialogue. The fact that these key principles have been ignored has raised serious questions among the people regarding the PKK's intentions to eventually disarm as well as led the nation to reconsider its commitment to the reconciliation process.