Reconciliation messages to top agenda at Nevruz celebrations
by Sena Alkan
ISTANBULMar 19, 2015 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Sena Alkan
Mar 19, 2015 12:00 am
Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu will participate in his Justice and Development Party's (AK Party) Nevruz festivities to be held tomorrow in Istanbul, where the focus will be on the continuing reconciliation process and similar celebrations taking place across the country in Diyarbakır. Jailed PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan is expected to release a statement to be delivered in the southeastern city. Speaking on Tuesday to his party group, Davutoğlu said the country would be standing shoulder to shoulder on March 21.
Turkish celebrities, including Funda Arar, Mustafa Ceceli, Serkan Çağrı, Yavuz Bingöl, Kibariye and Erhan Güleryüz will attend the celebration and appear in the concert.
Meanwhile, the pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party (HDP) and the Democratic Society Congress (DTK) are organizing separate Nevruz celebrations in the southeastern city of Diyarbakır, on the same day as the AK Party's celebrations in Istanbul, where the PKK's imprisoned leader Abdullah Öcalan will share a message with the crowd. Reportedly, French President Francois Hollande, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, Iraqi President Fuad Masun, Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) President Masoud Barzani, the Democratic Union Party (PYD) co-chairs Salih Muslim and Asya Abdullah and some of the heads from Syria's Kurdish cantons are among the leaders invited to the Nevruz celebrations in Diyarbakır.
Nevruz celebrations hold symbolic importance in Turkey's reconciliation process between Ankara and the Kurds, which is looking to end the decades-long conflict with the PKK.
In late February, Öcalan called for the PKK to lay down its arms. Öcalan's message was shared with the public by the pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party (HDP) during a press conference. The press conference took place after Deputy Prime Minister Yalçın Akdoğan held talks at the prime minister's office in Istanbul with the HDP committee, including HDP Vice Chair İdris Baluken and HDP Deputies Sırrı Süreyya Önder and Pervin Buldan, on the reconciliation process. Both sides emphasized the importance of a cease-fire, and said that Turkey is closer to peace than ever before. The HDP had formerly described the bill as a" hampering factor" for the reconciliation process.
Guns were silenced in 2013's Nevruz celebrations when Öcalan wrote a five-page message stating that weapons had to be laid down and the militant forces in the region had to withdraw.
"Ideas and politics should replace weapons," said Öcalan. The cease-fire process commenced on May 8, 2013.
Despite a few disruptions, the militant forces agreed with Öcalan's call to lay down their arms and pulled out of the region to outside Turkish borders. Öcalan wrote a new letter to mark 2014's celebrations both in Turkish and Kurdish.
Nevruz is also celebrated in various countries in the Middle East and Central Asia, including Afghanistan. Nevruz was included on UNESCO's 2009 List of Intangible Cultural Heritage with efforts by the ministry. The General Assembly of the United Nations announced March 21 as the "International Day of Nowruz."