While the public is expecting a PKK announcement concerning the date for its anticipated congress to lay down its arms, a senior PKK leader has said they are ready to end the armed struggle today, but did not mention laying down arms.
During this year's Nevruz celebration, imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan invited the PKK to hold a congress to lay down its arms in a message read by Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) deputies Pervin Buldan and Sırrı Süreyya Önder in Kurdish and Turkish in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır. In his letter, Öcalan said: "I think it is necessary and historic for the PKK to end the 40-year armed struggle against the Republic of Turkey and hold a congress to conform to the new era's spirit." While the public is expecting the announcement of the date of the congress, Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK), which is an umbrella organization that includes the PKK, Co-President Cemil Bayık said on Tuesday that the group aims to solve the Kurdish issue politically rather than militarily and is waiting for solid steps from the government in order to end the armed struggle. "If Turkey takes steps on its side, we are ready to end the armed struggle today. We have said this multiple times. We openly say that the Kurdish issue should be resolved through politics and not through arms," Bayık said without mentioning details of the solid steps that they expect from the government.
There has not been an armed conflict between the Turkish army and the PKK since early 2013, and in accordance with Öcalan's invitation, the PKK is expected to announce its congress to lay down arms. However, Bayık's comments could be interpreted as the PKK not being willing to do its part to ensure lasting peace. "Laying down arms and halting armed clashes are two different things. If the PKK bears arms today, it is not because it really wants to use them or is demanding a war. Kurds resorted to armed struggle to preserve their existence because [the Turkish state] left Kurds no other way to express themselves," Bayık said.
A senior officer from the Prime Ministry who evaluated Bayık's remarks under condition of anonymity said that they can be considered as a kind of move to put the process back on track since they have been going through rough times since President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's objection to the monitoring committee. "[The PKK administration in Iraq's] Qandil [Mountains] was threatening Ankara almost every day even though the reconciliation process was moving smoothly. Now, they are softening their discourse after Ankara's tough stance," a senior officer said, while adding that Bayık's statement is trying to create an impression that the government has an uncompromising attitude toward the reconciliation process.
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