PKK Leader Says Peace Talks With Turkey Entered Phase Since Oct. 15

Ocalan-PKK01-22october2013Abdullah Öcalan, the jailed leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), reportedly said Oct. 21 that the peace talks with the Turkish government had entered a new phase since Oct. 15 and he was upbeat over the chances of success.

The mid-October date had been seen by some as a deadline for the shaky peace negotiations, which took a blow two weeks ago when at least 35 people died in the worst unrest in Turkey’s southeast in years.

Thousands of people took to the streets and demonstrated against what they saw as Ankara’s refusal to help protect their kin in Kobane, a besieged Syrian Kurdish border town which has been battling Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants for over a month.

A call for calm by Öcalan helped end the street protests. On Tuesday, he called the riots as “breaking point” in the peace negotiations.

“As per the point we have reached, the narrowness of the current approach and the fact that it will not serve for peace have been understood sufficiently by the parties,” Öcalan said in a statement released by the People’s Democratic Party (HDP).

Repeating his call to avert further bloodshed and keep the peace process on track, Öcalan said his hopes of a solution had been boosted.

“I would like to express that we have entered a new phase as of October 15 regarding the process that concerns Turkey’s democratic future…and my hopes over a successful execution in this process are increased,” Öcalan said.

The statement was released after a delegation from the Kurdish HDP visited him in prison on the İmralı Island in Marmara Sea.

October 15 was perceived as a deadline by many when Öcalan’s brother Mehmet, after visiting him in jail earlier this month quoted him as saying: “We will wait until October 15…After that there will be nothing we can do.”

Öcalan’s appeal for calm had failed to convince some militants, while a PKK senior commander, Cemil Bayık, made clear in uncompromising language that he held ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) responsible for Kobane and the unrest in southeast Turkey.

On Tuesday, Öcalan called for faith in the peace process from the Kurdish community as well as bolder political moves.

“What we need here is trust for peace and democracy, a clearer will and bolder political moves… As the people of this land, it is our historical debt not to distract from our own solution,” he said.

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