PKK fighters in Diyarbakir’s Sur district in November 2015. File photo: Ilyas Akengin/AFP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Ankara is open to restarting the peace process with the PKK, if the Kurdish group ceases its armed activities, Turkey’s foreign minister stated.
“If the PKK lays down its arms, it is possible that the peace process will restart,” Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said in an interview with the German news agency DPA.
“We had to take great risks to start the peace process in Turkey,” he said, adding that they received criticism from voters for doing so.
“In the past, the PKK used the peace process for its own interests and brought arms into the cities. For the process to start again, laying down arms has to be implemented first,” he stressed.
The PKK, however, has claimed that 2017 ended with the Turkish state close to collapse.
“2017 went by, and now we enter 2018. Results? The Turkish state has failed to achieve results. On the contrary, they have been defeated,” Murat Karayilan, PKK executive council member, said in a recent interview with Denge Welat radio, according to PKK-linked ANF News.
He acknowledged that the PKK have suffered casualties over the year, “but there is a system of mobilization in place in all states,” he said.
He predicted 2018, the 40th anniversary of the foundation of the PKK, will be “a year of great resistance.”
Pundits are predicting Turkish parties will position themselves throughout 2018 in preparation for elections in 2019. The country will hold local elections in March that year and presidential and parliamentary elections in November.
Cavusoglu said that Turkey’s Kurds are first class citizens and their rights are not to be violated.
Four years of a peace process ended in July 2015 when fighting resumed between the PKK and Turkish forces.
According to the International Crisis Group at least 3,338 people have been killed in the two and a half years of clashes. That number includes 1,036 state security forces and 1,646 PKK fighters.