Erdogan said that the PKK would have to give up their weapons.
Erdogan was quoted by CNN Turk as saying: “The expression ‘ceasefire’ is wrong. The terror group must give up its weapons. Our hope is that they will give up their weapons.”
Abdullah Ocalan, the PKK leader, who was arrested in 1999, released a statement through his lawyers on Wednesday which calls for an unconditional ceasefire.
Ocalan’s statment said: “The PKK should not use weapons unless it is attacked with the aim of annihilation.”
It also stated that it was “very important to build a democratic union between Turks and Kurds. With this process, the way to democratic dialogue will be also opened”.
A way forward
Turkey considers PKK a terrorist
Ankara remains defiant that under no circumstances could discussions be held with a terrorist organisation. The PKK is considered a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the US and EU.
Ali Yurtugul, a member of the European Parliament and adviser on migration, asylum and discrimination and on issues linked to Turkey told Aljazeera that Turkey had an opportunity in its hands to open a political dialogue on the issue of Kurdish separatism and put the fight to rest.
“I have seen the cease-fire statement. It could give a new chance to Turkey to end this conflict.This initiative could be used by the US, Iraq and Turkey to open the door to stabilise the present situation while opening a political discussion with the Democratic Society Party (DTP).”
The DTP is a Kurdish-backed party in Turkey.
Yurtugul believes that if Turkey and the US can form an alliance with Iraq over the PKK then the Kurdish fighters simply won’t be able to continue the fight.
“We need them [measures] urgently and they need to be visible so that not only the Turkish public, but the Iraqi public and the American public can see that we are serious about eliminating the threat of terrorism.”
Retired Gen. Joseph Ralston
However, with statements by Jalal Talabani, the Iraqi President, earlier this month warning Turkey to stay out of Iraqi affairs it might not be so easy.
The PKK has bases in northern Iraq, which the Turkish government has asked the US and Iraq to act against. Ankara believes that Kurdish fighters may regroup in Iraq and then enter Turkey via pockets of unpoliced border between the two countries. Turkish jets carried cross border operations last month against the wishes of Baghdad.
Retired Gen. Joseph Ralston, a US special envoy in the PKK fight, arrived in Turkey in mid-September to deal with the issue of the ongoing war in the southeast.
Ralston told the Turkish media: “We need them [measures] urgently and they need to be visible so that not only the Turkish public, but the Iraqi public and the American public can see that we are serious about eliminating the threat of terrorism.”
Talabani was quoted this week as asking for a long-term US military presence in Iraq.
Yurtugul told Aljazeera: “If Talabani, Barzani [President of the Autonomous Kurdish Government in Iraq and leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party], the US and Turkey put pressure on the PKK, then there will have to be a way forward.”
Support for the PKK is dwindling in the southeast, said Yurtugul, as Kurds are tired of the fighting and poor living conditions.
“I was in Hakkari province recently [a predonominantly Kurdish province in the southeast of Turkey] and people are tired of the fight and poor living conditions.
“They don’t believe they can win anymore. It is a very different situation than in the early 1990s. Ankara must address the social/economic situation at the same time.”