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Kurdish Issue Key To Erdogan’s Success

Resolving the Kurdish issue is critical for Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to re-establish Turkey’s role in the region, writes Tulin Daloglu.
People hold signs as they attend the funeral ceremony of the three Kurdish activists shot in Paris, in Diyarbakir, the largest city in Turkey's mainly Kurdish southeast, January 17, 2013. The bodies of the activists, including that of Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) co-founder Sakine Cansiz, arrived by plane on Wednesday evening in Diyarbakir. REUTERS/Umit Bektas (TURKEY - Tags: POLITICS OBITUARY CIVIL UNREST)

Turkey is scheduled to hold local and presidential elections in 2014 and parliamentary elections the following year. Thus in 2013, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has the freedom to take political risks in trying to find a workable solution to the Kurdish issue. If unsuccessful, Erdogan will have plenty of time before the elections to structure the public debate and blame other actors for the failure of the recently upgraded peace process. If successful, he will certainly secure another strong win at the ballot box. Devlet Bahceli, an opposition leader and chairman of the National Movement Party, estimates that Erdogan is guaranteed to take “70% of votes in the next election” if he resolves the Kurdish issue.

A politically and economically strong and stable Turkey is definitely the best scenario not only for the country, but also for regional stability and security. However, the way the Erdogan government has played its cards thus far makes 2013 a difficult year to predict in terms of Turkish stability in domestic and foreign affairs. Not everything hinges on the fate of talks with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and its leader, Abdullah Ocalan, but there is no doubt that Turkey would emerge stronger if it could, once and for all, find a solution to the Kurdish issue.

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