As expectations in Ankara are raised that the Justice and Development Party, or AKP, may reveal the content of the Kurdish Initiative after Ramadan’s Festival of the Sacrifice, the prime minister announced that it would be an ongoing process. “If you call it a ‘package’, it should have a beginning and an end. But this is not a package. This is a process; a mid- and long-term process,” he said, revising earlier statements that it could be handled by the end of the year.
Accordingly, the AKP administration will extend the Kurdish Initiative over a period of time. Economic, social, cultural solutions, as well as the military solution, to end terror may be carried out gradually by the election period. For instance, constitutional change and economic investments will be spread in out into mid- to long terms, if necessary. Steps for the facilitation of speaking the Kurdish language, returning village names to Kurdish, supporting special Kurdish television broadcasts, having Kurdish translators in state institutions and shifting village guards to some other fields would be considered as part of the short-term program. Legal changes will follow in the medium term.
As I wrote at the beginning of the Kurdish Initiative, the AKP will not force the “red lines.” Meaning, expectations of radical steps, such as constitutional changes or a general amnesty, in the short run are unrealistic. However, this doesn’t mean that the AKP has no plan to bring the members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, down from the mountain, although, the government seeks no general amnesty. “If there are 4,500 people up in the mountains, 1,500 of them are not Turkish citizens. The remaining 90 percent are eligible for Article 221 of the Turkish Penal Code, or TCK. They are not involved in any terrorist activity. They are passive members of the PKK. In this case, those who surrender will be set free,” said Deputy Prime Minister Cemil Çiçek this week.
The emphasis Çiçek made is very critical because it gives an important clue for the Kurdish Initiative. At this point Çiçek implicitly revealed the government’s tactics to bring PKK terrorists down from the mountain. When I previously wrote about discussions over Article 221, my source was an influential minister. The plan seems to work and the ruling party can facilitate the return of the PKK members in the mountains by making simple changes in the article that already regulates effective repentance.
Friday, September 18, 2009