Last week, two protesters were killed during clashes between Turkish security forces and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Turkey’s southeast. In an email interview, Michael M. Gunter, professor of political science at Tennessee Technological University, discussed the current state of Turkey-PKK peace talks.
WPR: Where did Turkey-PKK peace talks and Ankara's broader Kurdish initiative stand before the recent incidents in the southeast?
Michael Gunter: The current Turkish-PKK peace process, which began with cautious hope early in 2013, stalled soon after it was launched. With good reason, the PKK has put the blame on the Turkish government. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is first and foremost an adept politician whose main priority is to expand his electoral mandate as Turkey enters its next electoral cycle in 2014-2015. In so doing, he has many opposing constituencies to appease. If he goes too far in satisfying the Kurds, he will surely alienate other, maybe even more important elements of the electorate. As a result, he seems to have treated the mere agreement to begin the peace process as the goal itself, rather than as a part of a process to address the root causes of the conflict.