In information leaked by Ankara sources to the press, the peace plan announced March 21 between the Turkish AKP government and Abdullah Ocalan, imprisoned leader of the Kurdish PKK, is to proceed in three stages with implementation expected to be complete by local elections in March 2014. Stage 1: disarming of PKK militants (about 1500) and withdrawal from Turkey; Stage 2: Legal and political management of this process; Stage 3: Normalization, including the reintegration of former PKK rebels into society.
The government also plans to set up a commission of “Wise Persons” to oversee the process and possibly a commission in parliament along the lines of “Unlwaful Acts of the Past”. Legal steps regarding the return process must be considered, for instance, whether the names of returning militants should be registered. If any of the militants have “criminal pasts” or had been PKK commanders, their status must be decided. It is possible that they could go to third countries, like Scandinavian countries, that could grant them “special status”.
The Management component of the plan aims to address public opinion. A recent nationalist MHP demonstration in Bursa showed that there would be push-back in society. The issue of “village guards” also is problematic. These are around 70,000 Kurds who worked with and were armed by the Turkish state to protect their villages against PKK incursions. There might well be tensions when former PKK militants return home.
Legal changes are also in the works. For instance, there is a plan afoot to amend and possibly abolish the Counter-Terrorism Law under which so many Kurds and journalists have been arrested, and to reshape the Criminal Code. The government also is working on a “Human Rights Action Plan” to go into effect later this year that aims to harmonize Turkey’s best practices with the European Convention on Human Rights. A draft of the plan that gives targets and deadlines for all ministries is expected to be submitted to the Cabinet within the next few weeks.