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The $55 billion cost of abandoning the Kurdish peace process

The economic burden of the Kurdish conflict was one of the government’s key arguments when it launched the Kurdish peace process in 2013, but today, Ankara seems to be braving a hefty economic bill for the sake of its political interests.
A demonstrator holds a portrait of Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK)'s jailed leader Abdullah Ocalan during a march in solidarity with him in Diyarbakir, Turkey, August 1, 2015.  REUTERS/Umit Bektas - RTX1MOBH
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Back in 2013, efforts to resolve the Kurdish problem — called the “settlement process” or “peace process” — had ushered Turkey into a new era. A reconciliation message by Abdullah Ocalan, the jailed leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), was read out in Kurdish and Turkish during Nowruz celebrations in Diyarbakir that year, boosting nationwide optimism. With a cease-fire in place, the police and the army stopped operations against the PKK, marking the beginning of a rather quiet period in Turkey.

The Justice and Development Party (AKP) government and then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan undertook a number of initiatives to speed up the settlement process and drum up public support. Meetings between government and Kurdish representatives in the Dolmabahce Palace became the colorful public face of the efforts.

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