January 29, 2013 – Hürriyet – AFP – ANKARA,— Turkey’s Kurdish rebels will declare a ceasefire and withdraw to their bases in northern Iraq in the spring as part of a deal brokered between their jailed leader and the country’s intelligence agency, media reported on Tuesday.
According to the agreed timetable, the Kurdistan Workers’ party (PKK) will declare a ceasefire in February at the urging of their jailed leader Abdullah Ocalan, daily Hurriyet reported.
As a confidence-building measure, some 100 PKK members will lay down arms and withdraw to northern Iraq in the spring, once the snow melts off the mountains along the two countries’ border, according to the daily. But the complete disarmament will depend on the course of negotiations with Ankara, it said.
There was no official confirmation of the Hurriyet report and a lawmaker from the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), Sirri Sakik, told AFP that he has not been informed of an agreement.
The PKK has in the past declared several ceasefires but they collapsed amid clashes between Turkey’s security forces and rebels in the restive southeast. The Turkish government has acknowledged that its secret services had resumed peace talks with Ocalan, aiming to disarm the rebels who use their bases in Iraq as a springboard to launch attacks on Turkey’s security forces in the Kurdish region in southeastern Turkey.
A high-level delegation from Turkey’s National Intelligence Organisation (MIT) will travel in the coming days to Iraq’s Kurdistan region where details of the possible ceasefire is due to be discussed, Hurriyet said. Last week, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his government was determined to settle the nearly three-decade Kurdish conflict and would guarantee safe passage for rebels wishing to leave the country.
“If you are sincere and honest, you lay down your arms,” Erdogan said, referring to the PKK. “If you don’t want to live in this country, you are free to go to any country you like. We assure you that … we’ll do our best not to let what happened at our borders before happen again,” he said.