PKK leader's Nevruz message to offer fresh perspective

DAILY SABAH
ISTANBUL
Published 15.03.2015 00:00
Updated 16.03.2015 09:38

Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) Deputy Sırrı Süreyya Önder has said the imprisoned leader of the PKK, Abdullah Öcalan, has penned a letter to be read during the annual March 21 Nevruz festival, which he said will be different from previous years' letters with regard to its content. Quoting Öcalan following his meeting with him on İmralı Island where he is incarcerated, Önder said the letter, which in previous years has conveyed messages of peace, would offer a "vital" global perspective for the establishment of a democratic republic.

The HDP committee paid a visit to İmralı İsland for talks with Öcalan as part of efforts to accelerate the reconciliation process, which the government launched in a bid to end the decades-long PKK insurgency. Upon his return from the island, Önder spoke to a private television channel affiliated with the PKK during which he detailed the talks the committee had with Öcalan and the content of Öcalan's message. Önder said: "I asked [Öcalan] how his [expected] message will be different from the previous messages he delivered [during Nevruz]. He said the previous ones were calls for peace and this one will offer a perspective vital for all of us for the establishment of a democratic republic." Nevruz is an important traditional and cultural event for Turkey's Kurdish population. It also coincides with a previous call made by Öcalan in 2013 to withdraw all armed elements from Turkey as of May and June 2013 and put an end to the armed conflict.

Önder also deemed the call for disarmament that was made during a landmark step that has opened doors to qualified negotiations as very important.

Önder, who quoted Öcalan, said on February 28 that Öcalan's call for a congress was a manifestation of his intention for the PKK to disarm. Önder also read out the 10 items that will constitute the basis of the negotiations. Developments following Öcalan's call illustrate that both sides of the reconciliation process have a genuine will to conduct the process and to bring it to a successful conclusion. The disarmament will restart the negotiations that have stalled due to attempts to cripple the reconciliation process.

"The joint statement should be perceived well by everyone. The items create a historical opportunity for the democratization of Turkey," Önder said.

Önder continued: "Öcalan has shared some fundamental aspects and stressed points of the letter. It would not be apt to share the message beforehand, but [I can] comment on the nature of it. It includes a fresh perspective and a valuable road map both for our country and the region that will lead to peace both in theory and practice."

The reconciliation process, which has recently been on shaky ground as a result of numerous provocations, appears to have settled again after Öcalan called on the PKK leadership to hold a congress to discuss laying down arms. The HDP and the government have been holding official talks to speed up the conclusion of the process, the end for which society is growing impatient. Akdoğan recently said the Nevruz festival, which marks the beginning of spring and the beginning of the year in the Persian calendar, would be a key milestone for the country's reconciliation process.

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