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Turkey Special: Kurdish Leader Ocalan "Nearing Deal" with Erdogan

So now we know the basis of reports that there may be a "solution of the Kurdish issue". Speculation, sometimes fed by the Erdogan Government, has risen amid a renewal of meetings with the imprisoned leader of the PKK insurgency, Abdullah Ocalan, on Imrali Island. However, it is with the leak of Ocalan's conversation with pro-Kurdish MPs that speculation has turned into expectation.

What Did Ocalan Say?

According to the records, confirmed by the oppositon BDP, Ocalan approved of Ankara's approach to find a solution, giving letters to the deputies to be delivered to PKK leaders in northern Iraq and across Europe.

Ocalan made six points in response:

The PKK head said that he gave Erdogan's Justice and Development Party (AKP) a deal, including Kurdish autonomy, "on a silver plate" --- the insurgency had stopped attacks, but Erdogan "understood that he got more space from the State mechanisms the more he hit the PKK".

Secondly, Ocalan pointed to a conspiracy which could undermine the peace process, after a judicial attempt to remove intelligence director Hakan Fidan last year. He claimed that Fidan has been integral to negotiations and that his departure could pull down the Erdogan Government.

Speaking to BDP deputy Ahmet Altan, Ocalan said:

You know the organisation on the right. Contra-guerrilla is USA-based. They took over judiciary and police. The MIT (National Intelligence Organisation) is stronger than the military, the prosecutor called but they did not go. For me, it is a resistance. Erdogan will take his revenge. Let’s say, God willing, he will do so!

Thirdly, Ocalan said that the PKK could support the AKP's Presidential system with one condition: a bicameral Parliament, as in the US, Britain, and Russia. He said one chamber would be "a State Parliament’ and the other as a ‘democratic parliament’ or ‘people’s parliament&rsquo.

Ocalan emphasised this distribution of power: "I am against the AKP’s hegemony."

Fourthly, Ocalan stressed the demand for security of Kurdish rights, “Collective rights and the Kurdish reform code will be put through. If we [only] insist on democratic autonomy, this will be sabotaged.”

Fifthly, Ocalan defined his understanding of the political steps, linked to a withdrawal of PKK forcee from Turkey:

The PKK even does not understand me... It won’t be a withdrawal as they understand....I am sharing their concerns. My documents propose disengagement that will satisfy their concerns. The first one is A Philosophical Approach to Democratic Peace Process which is comprised of 10 articles; the second one is Democratic Solution Plan which is comprised of 10 articles and the last one is Democratic Peace’s Action Plan which should be implemented in three phases.

Ocalan said that these documents will be announced on Thursday on Newroz, the Spring Festival. He then spoke to both the Government and his followers:

You must know that my move will let the conspiracy down. I am overcoming the conspiracy. If I succeed, there will be no KCK (Kurdistan Communities Union) prisoners. If this does not happen, there will be a 50-thousand-people’s war. People will die, I will live and let live. Everyone must know that we will neither live, nor will wage war as we did in the past. I have faith in myself. You must know that neither me nor the state can give up now. It is a historical transition into peaceful and democratic life.

Who Leaked The Conversations and Why? 

The first scenario is that the Government leaked the records to pressure the opposition BDP. The problem with the explanation is that it points to weakness within Erdogan's administration, indicating that they cannot safeguard the negotiations by maintaining secrecy.

The second scenario is that the BDP leaked, supporting Ocalan's efforts to minimise any internal challenge to his leadership. At the same time, the BDP would boost its role as an interlocutor of the talks.

At the same time, the BDP cannot be seen as deliberately leaking the conversations. So it has held an internal investigation, declaring that those responsible have been "fired".

What Are the Next Stages?

EA reported on 10 January that the plan for an agreement was going to be in four phases.

The first has happened with Ocalan's letters to the PKK leadership in northern Iraq and Europe. Responses have been submitted to State officials, to be delivered to Ocalan, and another BDP official arriving on Imrali on Monday. Ocalan will then declare the PKK's official position.&

The second step is the freeing of thousands of Kurdish detainees and acceleraton of the process for the new Constitution. Some KCK detainees have been already been released from prisons, thanks to the fourth judicial package. The rest are hoping to be released soon.

During this second phase, the AKP might need the BDP's support for the Constitution if they are putting it to a referendum. In return, the BDP will ask for a "more democratic" protecting the rights of Kurds and allowed them to establish recognised political institutions.

In the third phase, the Government will put forth further confidence-building measures, such as the gradual removal of barriers to education in a mother language, a general definition of citizenship of the Turkish Republic rather than identity as a “Turk”, and removal of the reservations to the European Charter of Local Self-Government.

Finally, the PKK will disarm and and the Government will put Ocalan under house arrest as it issues a general amnesty for the insurgents.

Put bluntly: could this be a turning point for Turkey?

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