If you were looking for some new year cheer, you could do worse than look toward Turkey, with confirmation this weekend that talks between Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government and Abdullah Ocalan, the jailed leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ party (PKK), are continuing and that the focus of the negotiations was getting the movement to lay down its arms.
Any glimmer of hope for an end to an insurgency that has cost at least 40,000 lives is to be welcomed. Especially since the last 18 months have witnessed a surge in violence the like of which has not been seen since Ocalan was seized by Turkish special forces in 1999.
But at least two questions hang over the discussions. The first is the extent of Ocalan’s authority. When the Guardian interviewed him in a secret hideout near Rome just weeks before his capture in Nairobi, he was the PKK’s undisputed leader. Ever since, he has been locked away on an island in the Sea of Marmara. His lawyers say he has no access to a telephone.
For more on this story, visit: Turkish talks offer hope of peace with Kurdish militants | World news | guardian.co.uk.