The government intends on launching a new Turkish-Kurdish reconciliation process, but this time with new interlocutors, not the PKK and its political wing the HDP, both of which lost the chance of being the key actors in the former peace process due to their extrajudicial actions
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said neither the Kurdish nationalist Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) nor the PKK terrorist organization will ever be accepted as an interlocutor again. Some may feel the president is being a bit too harsh but it is clear that what motivates the head of state in speaking like this is not his emotions but the fact that he too has realized that the HDP and the PKK have no intention of being a part of any peace or reconciliation process in Turkey and that their real goal is to establish a separate Kurdish state in Turkey.
In the 1990s, the Kurdish political movement was hijacked by the PKK. Yet we all gave the Kurdish political activists the benefit of the doubt simply because the state was involved in a policy of denial and was committing great mistakes in handling the Kurdish issue through bans and human rights violations. So a handful of Turkish intellectuals, including this columnist, rallied to the help of the Kurds of Turkey and defended their cause with serious losses.
If Turkey had had a Recep Tayyip Erdoğan then and if Turkey had managed to end the military dominance on its domestic politics then we could have ended Kurdish complaints that they did not feel like first class citizens of the Republic.
At the time leading veteran Kurdish politicians in Turkey had told us they were the last chance as interlocutors to solve this issue through peaceful and political means. Those running Turkey turned a blind eye to this fact and instead treated these politicians like the enemy. Thus people like Şerafettin Elçi, Abdulmelik Fırat and Ahmet Türk were disregarded and their pleas remained in the air.
Today the military's dominance over Turkish politics has ended, the government and the state are in hands of able people who understand the value of Turkish-Kurdish reconciliation and are prepared to go to the extremes to achieve this even at the cost of losing elections.
Yet this time there are no viable interlocutors who want this kind of reconciliation and meaningful peace process. The PKK had no intention of laying down its arms and abandoning terrorism. On the contrary they used the peace and reconciliation process in the past three years as an opportunity to mass arms and prepare the infrastructure of a secessionist uprising and the HDP in Parliament joined them to achieve their cause.
When the PKK saw that its Syrian Kurdish affiliate the Democratic Union Party (PYD) was able to create cantons and autonomous political entities in northern Syria, they decided to capitalize on this trend and repeat the same in southeastern Turkey. Hence they resumed their terrorist activities that have resulted in the Turkish state reciprocating with a massive, successful security operation that is still underway.
Once law and order is restored in southeastern Turkey there is no doubt that the government will launch a new reconciliation initiative but this time it will need new interlocutors and these will not be the PKK or HDP. This is what Erdoğan is saying in very clear terms.
The HDP and the PKK have disqualified themselves as interlocutors opting for violence and terrorism while the atmosphere was ripe for peace and the Turkish leaders were prepared even to sacrifice their careers for this cause.