Talks may end Kurdish war: Despite the Turkish army's doubts, conditions for peace exist

THE Iraqi Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani starts meetings with the Turkish leadership today that many hope will consolidate the curious but successful 13-day-old ceasefire in Turkey's Kurdish war.

Kurdish guerrillas are still dying - two were killed on Thursday and 11 on Wednesday - and scores of Kurds are still being arrested. But the Turks call the situation 'calm' and the Kurdish guerrillas say the truce declared on March 20 is still in effect.

Mr Talabani is seen by many as the catalyst of the ceasefire. Today he is to meet the Turkish President, Turgut Ozal, and on Monday he will have talks with the Prime Minister, Suleyman Demirel. Bearing messages from the Kurdish guerrilla leader Abdullah 'Apo' Ocalan, his main objective is to extend the truce beyond an initial deadline of 15 April.

The Iraqi Kurdish mediator will find Mr Ozal sympathetic but unable to give much more than psychological support. The man Mr Talabani must convince is the more conservative and suspicious Mr Demirel.

For their part, the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) guerrillas said yesterday that they were still keen for peace. 'We will continue to obey our decision and our leader Apo to the letter,' a statement said. 'The Turkish state must respond with the same sense of responsibility.'

The Turkish state has indeed been searching for a policy that can bring peace without losing face after a war that has killed nearly 6,000 people since 1984. 'The existing calm is pleasing for us. The state will do whatever possible to extend this calm,' the government spokesman, Akin Gonen, said after a cabinet meeting on Thursday to discuss Turkey's options. Mr Gonen did not dismiss the guerrillas' most difficult immediate demand, a general amnesty. He said that there might be adjustments to a three-year-old 'repentance law'. Press reports suggest this will amount to a 'veiled amnesty', while senior officials have also hinted that Turkey may dilute emergency rule in Kurdish provinces and lift bans on Kurdish place-names, family names and Kurdish broadcasting.

This falls short of the guerrillas' demands, which include allowing Mr Ocalan to become a Turkish political leader. But the guerrillas have suffered military reverses, have lost the crucial support of Syria and are under heavy pressure from ordinary Kurds who want to grab this opportunity for a more normal life.

Mr Demirel faces the same pressure. Newspaper columnists are demanding peace and Kurdish rights. Mr Demirel's Social Democrat coalition partners doubt that the problem can be finished off militarily. The US State Department has echoed that view and the British Foreign Office has called on Turkey to formulate a 'constructive response'.

Turkish army officers, however, want to finish off the guerrillas. The army has not yet publicly stated its position, but there have been few changes in the emergency-rule governorate of south-eastern Turkey, where half Turkey's 12 million Kurds live. In each of the governor's daily faxes to the media about the number of guerrillas arrested, wounded or 'captured dead', a line has been added. Operations are carried out to 'neutralise the terrorist organisation'.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Freight Forward Senior Operator

£22000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This logistics firm are looking...

Recruitment Genius: Lead Marketing Specialist

£34500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A lead marketing specialist is required ...

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Technician - 2nd / 3rd Line

£26000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An IT Support Technician is req...

Recruitment Genius: Folder Gluer Operator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: There will be a number of exciting opportuniti...

Day In a Page

Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map