28 Feb Hurriyet – Turkish gov’t, mediator party mark start of Kurdish talks toward political solution, disarmament / The HDP has announced a call by the jailed leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) to hold a congress in spring to discuss disarmament in Turkey The Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) has announced at a historic joint press conference with government representatives at Istanbul’s Dolmabahçe Palace a call by the jailed leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) to outlawed organization to hold a congress in spring to discuss disarmament in Turkey, a major breakthrough toward political negotiations in the decades-long Kurdish issue. “This is a historic declaration of will to replace armed struggle with democratic politics,” the HDP’s Sırrı Süreyya Önder said of Feb. 28 at noon, quoting PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan, who also called for a reinforced cease-fire

Silencing arms would contribute in democratic development, said Deputy Prime Minister Yalçın Akdoğan at the meeting also attended by Interior Minister Efkan Ala and the HDP’s Pervin Buldan and İdris Baluken. Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said while speaking at his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) youth congress in Ankara that the announcement was a new step in the Kurdish issue, giving credit to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. “Solution process, which began with President Erdoğan’s speech in Diyarbakır in 2005, has now taken a new shape,” he said.

Davutoğlu said this will pave the way for a democratic policy in Turkey. The meeting came after a period when talks over the peace process between the government and HDP officials were suspended as obstacles standing before a 10-article, joint communiqué was not resolved.

Önder summarized the 10 articles, or priorities, of Öcalan at the Feb. 28 statement:

1- Definition and the content of democratic politics

2- Definition of the national and local dimensions of democratic solution.

3- Legal and democratic warranties of free citizenship

4- Headlines of democratic politics – state and society relations, how will these issue will be institutionalized

5- The socio-economic dimensions of the resolution process

6- Handling the democracy-security ties during the resolution process in a manner that will sustain both public order and freedoms

7- Legal solutions and warranties for the woman, culture and ecology quests

8- Developing a pluralist democracy that looks for defining the concept of identity

9- Defining concepts of democratic republic, common homeland and nation with democratic criteria; granting these a legal and constitutional warranty within the pluralist democratic system

10- New constitution that aims at internalizing all democratic moves and transformations.

Analysts speculate that these items will draw the framework of the official Kurdish issue negotiations in the pipeline. “A new constitution is key to solve many crucial problems,” Akdoğan said. “We are determined to conclude this [solution] process with full support of the public,” he said.“This was a historic decision,” Önder told journalists after the meeting.

The main opposition Republican Democratic People’s Party (CHP) has also welcomed the call’ with Levent Gök, a deputy leader of the party’s parliament group, saying “If the arms will be left, we would find this useful and feel happy.”

This was in line with the earlier statements by the party leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu.The Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), the second opposition party at the parliament, has distanced itself from the process, bringing in harsh criticism on the basis of unitary state. The government’s insistence in passing a much-controversial homeland security package has also constituted a major obstacle to the peace process, as the HDP strongly opposes the bill.

The co-leader of the HDP had accused the government of one-sided acts that have obstructed a joint statement that could help improve the fate of the Kurdish bid. Such a joint statement, expected on Feb. 15, did not materialize due to the government’s “imposing a one-sided stance and manipulations,” the HDP’s Selahattin Demirtaş said while responding to reporters’ questions on the content of a 10-item “resolution draft.”

Feb. 15 is the anniversary of Öcalan’s capture in Kenya in a joint operation of Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT) and the CIA on Feb. 15, 1999. The Feb. 28 call means to say that the PKK will no longer launch any armed activity and will lay down arms during the process. Both the government and Öcalan want a “reinforced cease-fire” and the withdrawal of PKK militants to begin before the June 7 election. Turkey started talks with Öcalan began in late 2012 to end the conflict and a de facto cease-fire has been continuing since then despite relatively minor incidents. February/28/2015