Turkey: Turning the ceasefire into peace.

January 9, 2015

The following are Hiwa Osman’s notes for his speech at Talking TR, Istanbul:

It is a great honour to be invited by Turkish Review to speak here at this great institution. Initiatives like this are excellent opportunities for ensuring a full and fair discussion of complicated issues.

I am sure the future prime minister or president of this country is amongst the young audience here. And I hope he or she will be the leader of a country that is prosperous, safe and is at peace with itself and with its surroundings. In other words, a country with “zero-problems” in snide and outside and i seriously hope that they will not have to deal with the issue of the peace process.

Having come from Erbil, a region that views Turkey as an important partner of progress and growth, we follow with great interest the internal events of Turkey.

Since our legal and constitutional status of self rule has come about, almost every event inside Turkey had a direct impact on us. In fact, and up until the recent ISIS episode in the whole region, we used to say that in Iraq, if the Shia have Iran, the Sunnis have the Sunni Arab state and the Kurds have Turkey. This has today changed.

At the beginning, we saw the emergence of ISIS as a reaction to the policies of Maliki and Asad and it was seen as a local Sunni alliance and reaction to bad policies of Shia-dominated governments.

But when they started to behave like a force of the dark ages and started attacking the Christians by forcing them to convert, leave or die and committed a genocide against the Yezidis. Alarm bells rang in Iraqi Kurdistan and amongst the Kurdish political parties.

it was clear that this is not a local problem. It is an international one and represents a threat to all the values that people in the civilised world stand for.

When they attacked the Kurdish areas of Iraq and Syria a new reality was created.

Kurds from all parts of Kurdistan today stand united against this evil force. As we speak, Kurdish fighters from Syria, Iran, Iraq and Turkey are on the front-lines with ISIS.

To many Kurds, this is a great source of pride. to see all Kurds united in the face of an enemy that is also an enemy of civilisation and humanity.

The common disappointment was the stance of Turkey.
At a time when everyone was expecting Turkey to be the first that helps protect Iraqi Kurdistan Region and namely Erbil, Iran was the first to help and then the United States and everyone else followed suite.

This created a sense of dismay amongst our people.

When the president and prime minister started equating the PKK to ISIS, at a time when the PKK was fighting ISIS on all fronts, we felt very concerned and extremely alarmed.

For us in Iraqi Kurdistan, a correct, healthy and transparent peace process in Turkey is essential to a sustainable and good relationship with Turkey.

Currently, there is a ceasefire. The challenge is to turn this ceasefire into permanent peace. A peace that is sustainable and is dignified for both sides.

The peace process is not about two political parties, or two people. it is a bout a strategic relationship between two people. The Turks and Kurds. Inside and outside Turkey.

But there are some parameters for this peace to come about.

The process is a bilateral one. The government can not alone solve the Kurdish issue.

The events of the past years proved that the only serious interlocutor for peace is the PKK and its leader Mr Ocalan.

Others inside and outside Turkey can help but ultimately it is the PKK and its leader who will have the final say.

While it is true that the only interlocutor for realising permanent peace in Turkey is the PKK and its leader.

But the right conditions and attitude need to be in place for getting the process underway in a healthy manner.

Currently the process is very secretive and it is between two men through the intelligence services. A prisoner and a president.

Conducting negotiations between two men one in prison and one in the presidential palace is clearly not a balanced or healthy relationship.

The initial steps in a process can be kept quiet, but the process needs to be more open and more transparent because the end result concerns everyone not just the two men or the two parties.

A permanent peace that will lead to constitutional changes that guarantees the fundamental rights of the Kurdish people inside Turkey.

Given the deep differences on the issues; the lack of confidence between the negotiating parties and the secret nature of the talks; it would be useful to have a third party that the two sides can agree on and acts as a facilitator and witness to the process.

Whether this third party is local, regional and international; it should be decided by the two parties.

In the past, some believed that external factors are not allowing peace in Turkey. Today almost all external factors are creating the right environment for peace.

The Kurds of Iraq are willing and repeatedly said in the past that they will support any initiative for peace in Turkey. Peace in Turkey means stability and prosperity in Iraqi Kurdistan.

The presence of ISIS and the PKK’s determination to fight ISIS is another important factor that can be capitalised on and invested for realising internal peace for Turkey.

The events of the past few years brought all of us to this stage. A ceasefire with a strong potential for permanent peace. Retreating from that is not an option.

We should all use all the influence we can push the process further and turn the current ceasefire into a real permanent peace between our people and creat a better place for the next generation.


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