Turkey’s spy chief assured the imprisoned leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in a secret meeting last week that the state will press ahead with the peace process to end 30 years of conflict, media reports said Wednesday.
The head of Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MIT), Hakan Fidan, met on Friday with PKK chief Abdullah Ocalan in his island prison, media quoted Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay as saying.
The meeting came after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan won the August 10 presidential election — and was aimed at ending any uncertainty over the fate of peace process between Turkey and Kurdish militants under his presidency, the reports said.
The Cumhuriyet newspaper reported that what made Fidan’s visit “exceptional” was the fact that it came just after the election, recalling that Fidan had met with Ocalan on a few occasions over the last 18 months.
It said the visit was aimed at answering the question “will Erdogan continue the peace process when he takes the presidency?”
“Ocalan has been clearly assured that Erdogan will be a key follower of the [peace] process while in office as president,” Cumhuriyet said.
The newspaper noted that Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu is widely expected to become prime minister while Fidan is favorite to become foreign minister.
It said the visit to Ocalan was aimed at passing on the message that the peace process will continue “independent of individuals.”
Ocalan said on Saturday the long-running insurgency that has cost at least 40,000 lives was “coming to an end,” hailing the start of a new democratic process in Turkey after the election.
Erdogan’s government has sought to ease tensions with the Kurdish community through a series of reforms including Kurdish broadcasts on state-run TRT television, as well as the use of Kurdish language in private schools.
Ankara launched peace talks in 2012 with the PKK which waged a war on Turkish authorities in 1984 for self-rule but they stalled in September when the rebels accused the government of failing to deliver on reform.