Turkey ‘facing vicious circle of violence’

ISTANBUL – Hurriyet – 12.9.2012 – A recent report draws a pessimistic picture of the Kurdish problem in Turkey, noting that Kurdish conflict is becoming more violent.

“Turkey is still in a position of strength and can move forward and rectify the mistakes that caused the Democratic Opening to fall short and prevented the previously hoped for end to the PKK [outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party] insurgency in 2009 and 2011,” the International Crisis Group said in its latest report titled “Turkey: The PKK and a Kurdish Settlement,” which will be made public today.“But given rising tensions and restive youth, this window of opportunity may not be open for much longer,” the report titled “Turkey: The PKK and a Kurdish Settlement,” which will be made public today read.

The report called on both the government and the PKK to take some steps before the conflict passes a point of no return.

“Many hopes from the last decade have faded. The Kurdish movement is skeptical that its demands will be taken into account soon; the PKK has escalated the use of force; mass arrests have crippled legal Kurdish politics; and the collapse of negotiations has left the two sides apparently far apart,” said the report.

People on both sides talk of winning militarily and seem to have accepted the death of hundreds each year as the cost, the group said, but notes that “public opinion among Turks and Kurds alike increasingly concedes that military action alone will not solve their mutual problem.”

“What has been missing is a clear conflict resolution strategy, implemented in parallel with measured security efforts to combat armed militants, to convince Turkey’s Kurds that their rights will be gradually but convincingly extended in a democratizing Turkey,” the group said, adding that the timing was right for such a move since a new constitution is being drafted. “Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan should seize the opportunity to champion democratic reforms that would meet many of the demands voiced by most of Turkey’s Kurds,” said the group. “This would not require negotiations with the PKK, but the prime minister should engage with the legal Kurdish movement, take its grievances into account and make it feel ownership over reforms.”