Turkey’s general elections overshadow peace process

Turkey’s pro-Kurdish political movement decided to pause peace process focusing on the upcoming general elections on June 7

Photo by: AA
Photo by: AA

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Recent messages from leaders of outlawed PKK and pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) signal to end the peace process launched in 2013 as they gear up for June 7 elections.

In early 2013, the Turkish government launched the Kurdish-Turkish Peace Process as part of a Resolution Process which was was initiated in 2012 to end the decades-old conflict with the PKK, which was founded in the late 1970s by its jailed leader Abdullah Ocalan.

One of the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) leaders, Bese Hozat, said the PKK decided to change their decision convening a congress to lay down arms.

KCK is an umbrella organisation which brings together all of the members and activities of PKK.

PKK is recognized as a terrorist organization by Turkey as well as NATO and the EU, that has claimed the lives of 40,000 people.

Hozat said “We don't have an aim to launch this congress at the moment. Because the process didn’t work.”

The jailed PKK leader Ocalan called on supporters in a letter to lay down arms and convene a congress to end the battle during Newroz celebrations on March 21, in Turkey’s southeastern province of Diyarbakir.

“No steps came from the government. Without the solution of Kurdish issue, PKK will not convene in such a congress,” said Hozat.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told that one stakeholder cannot attempt to withdraw from the Kurdish-Turkish peace process at this point in time, as the process has been embraced by the people and has become public property.

Davutoglu said, “Today the ‘Resolution Process’ has ceased to be an issue of one shareholder, it became public property,” as he met with representatives of German TV channels during his visit to Germany on May 3.

Meanwhile, the statements of HDP politicians were also not able to encourage the sustaining of the peace process, as politicians are focusing on the success in general elections.

Speaking to a Turkish news channel on April 30, HDP's co-chairman Selahattin Demirtas said that if they will not be able to exceed the threshold, they will launch a “civil unrest” independently of Turkish parliament after the elections.

Demirtas stressed the importance of this election launching on June 7 at his party’s rally in western province of Balikesir on May 5 since HDP needs to overcome ten percent of the election threshold in order to participate in the parliament.

Political parties of Turkey need to win 10 percent of the vote to enter parliament under the constitution which established after a military coup in 1982.

The HDP is taking part in general elections for the first time under its own banner, claiming to overcome the threshold, although many researches suggest that 10 percent threshold is a quite high number for the party to reach.

The AK Party officials said that Demirtas’ words are “threatening and aimed at intimidating the voters” in the mainly Kurdish southeast.

Sureyya Sirri Onder, a leading figure in HDP’s delegation in direct talks with Ocalan, recently remarked that the process was “disclaimed by the Turkish government.”

“There is a table, but its seats are empty now. As of now, the process lost its authority not only in terms of sincerity but also by the President’s campaign to discredit it,” said Onder in an interview on May 5.

However, the government insists upon keeping the process moving.

The Spokesman of Turkish Presidency Ibrahim Kalin stressed that laying down arms is the most critical  phase by saying “When we achieve that, the Solution Process will accomplish its goal, as Mr President says.” 

“As the political actor who has carried out this process from the beginning despite all the difficulties and today as the President and the head of the state, Mr President supports the Resolution Process and will continue to do so,” said Kalin.

TRTWorld and agencies