The first rung of the Four-Rung Ladder Strategy of the Imrali Process is finally in sight. Imprisoned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Ocalan will issue a call to the PKK to cease hostilities on the occasion of the Nowruz celebrations on March 21.
Everyone is curious as to what Ocalan discussed with the second Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) delegation that visited him over the weekend. There are so many questions. What did they discuss? What did Ocalan say? How long did they talk? What happened to Ocalan’s letters?
Answers to these questions will be shared with the public step by step. Actually, the roadmap of the discussions that Pervin Buldan, Sirri Sureyya Onder and Altan Tan were to hold with Ocalan was known in advance. That was the Four-Rung Ladder Strategy.
The first rung is an end to hostilities. Ocalan is to send a clear message to the PKK to immediately end hostilities and remind them that unless hostilities end, other steps cannot follow.
The second step is leaving Turkey. This is the most emphasized issue. Ocalan knows well that unless PKK militants safely leave Turkey, it would be impossible to build trust between the two sides. Along with the declaration of ending hostilities, other steps towards democratization — which have been a long time coming — will gain momentum. The PKK will announce it is withdrawing approximately 4,000 militants from Turkey. After Turkey guarantees that there will not be any interference with the withdrawal process, a phased withdrawal will commence.
The third rung is the negotiations for giving up arms. If the first two rungs are safely climbed, negotiations with the PKK to give up arms will start. Even if the four parliamentary political parties cannot fully agree on the draft for a new constitution, the points agreed on thus far will be announced. The vital questions related to resolving the Kurdish issue in the context of democratization are, first, a neutral definition of citizenship: People will not be defined as Turkish or Kurdish; the new definition will be “citizen of the Turkish Republic.” Next is the removal of barriers to education in one’s mother tongue. An immediate transition to mother-tongue education is impossible, both practically and theoretically. That is why first the barriers will be eliminated. Finally, local administrations will be empowered. Turkey will revoke its reservations to the European Council Local Administrations Autonomy Accord. The AKP, the BDP and the main opposition CHP appear to have come close to an agreement on this issue.
The fourth is a farewell to arms. Giving up arms is not an easy process. After all, the PKK is a regional organization that has been armed for 30 years. That is why their military leader, Murat Karayilan, spoke of the need to persuade both the mountain cadres and the party leaders. This is the most critical phase that will need Ocalan’s clout. He has a plan in mind. He will not reveal the details of his plan until the third rung is climbed. We are told is that Ocalan is convinced and has full confidence in himself.
Now let’s have look at what the second delegation spoke about at Imrali. Pervin Buldan made the first declaration on behalf of Ocalan: “This meeting is a historical step. We are living through a historical process. All parties have to be very careful in this process. Both the state and the PKK have prisoners. The PKK must treat its prisoners well. I hope they will return to their homes as soon as possible.”
This official statement was brief and clear, but the background is more detailed. Now after all the preparations we are about to step onto the first rung of the ladder. Ocalan will call on the PKK to cease hostilities on the occasion of Nowruz on Mar. 21. He will personally make this call. He is reported to have made his commitment clear to the visiting team.
There are many reasons for him to make this declaration on March 21. It is highly symbolic because the fire used in Nowruz festivities is a symbol of spring and peace, both for Kurds and Turks.
Ocalan explained to the visiting team his views about the solution process. There are three letters written to the Kandil command, Europe and the BDP. In these letters, Ocalan details step by step the peace process that will conclude with the PKK giving up arms. Ocalan did not give the letters to the BDP team. They will be delivered this week and the BDP will decide how to transmit the letters to Europe and Kandil.
The most important step to be taken is how 4,000 militants will leave Turkish territory. This will enable Ocalan to go up to the second rung after his cease-fire call and work on a withdrawal in May and June. After Turkey assures non-interference in the withdrawal, the withdrawal calendar will be set in motion.