Turkey reassures PKK leader on Kurdish peace in secret meeting: Report

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Turkey’s intel chief assured the imprisoned leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in a secret meeting last week that the state will press ahead with the peace process to end 30 years of conflict, media reports said Aug. 20.

The head of Turkey’s National Intelligence Organisation (MIT), Hakan Fidan, met on Aug. 15 with PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan in his island prison, media quoted Deputy Prime Minister Beşir Atalay as saying.

The meeting came after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan won the August 10 presidential election – and was aimed at ending any uncertainty over the fate of peace process between Turkey and Kurdish militants under his presidency, the reports said.

The Cumhuriyet newspaper reported that what made Fidan’s visit “exceptional” was the fact that it came just after the election, recalling that Fidan had met with Öcalan on a few occasions over the last 18 months. It said the visit was aimed at answering the question “will Erdoğan continue the peace process when he takes the presidency?” 

“Öcalan has been clearly assured that Erdoğan will be a key follower of the [peace] process while in office as president,” the report said. The newspaper noted that Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu is widely expected to become prime minister while Fidan is favourite to become foreign minister.

The report said the visit to Öcalan was aimed at passing on the message that the peace process will continue “independent of individuals.”

Öcalan said on Aug. 16 the long-running insurgency that has cost at least 40,000 lives  was “coming to an end,” hailing the start of a new democratic process in Turkey after the election.

Erdoğan’s government has sought to ease tensions with the Kurdish community through a series of reforms including Kurdish broadcasts on state-run TRT television, as well as the use of Kurdish language in private schools. Ankara launched peace talks with the PKK in 2012 but the process stalled in September when the organization accused the government of failing to move ahead with reforms.

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