Turkey and the Kurdish rebel movement on Feb. 28 announced a landmark political deal that calls for the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) to lay down arms. The news came in a joint press conference with senior cabinet ministers and Kurdish leaders of the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), where they conveyed a call by imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan for a congress this spring to discuss the group's disarmament. "This is a historic declaration of will to replace armed struggle with democratic politics," said the HDP's Sırrı Sureyya Onder. The Union of Communities in Kurdistan (KCK), the PKK-aligned civil organization in Turkey's east, also issued a statement in support of the call for a peace process in the region. Some 40,000 people have lost their lives since 1984 when the PKK launched its armed struggle.
The KCK added that it is the time for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) to prove its sincerity in the peace process—but expressed dissent over the government's pending anti-terrorism law, which it said goes against the spirit of the agreement.
HDP leader Selahattin Demirtas, speaking at a party congress in Batman, echoed these sentiments: "We know Mr. Ocalan is being sincere and that the KCK will fulfil its part of the bargain. However, the AKP does not fill us with confidence."
At the other end of the spectrum, the right-wing Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) chairman Devlet Bahçeli blasted the AKP government for a "treasonous, malicious, disgraceful partnership" with the PKK. (Kurdish Daily News, March 2; KurdPress, BGN News, Hurriyet Daily News, March 1; DefenseNews, Feb. 28)