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Turkey: PKK peace process raises constitutional change questions

Turkey: PKK peace process raises constitutional change questions
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The people of Turkey are digesting the historic statement from jailed rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan, who called for a PKK ceasefire on March 21.

The outlawed group has been involved in an armed struggle for an autonomous Kurdistan and more rights for Kurds in Turkey since 1984.

The government, led by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, welcomed it as a “positive development,” but Dr. Çağla Gül Yesevi of İstanbul Kültür University explained that satisfying Kurdish demands is likely to lead to constitutional change: “From now on the principles of the Turkish state could be different. It’s a process of creating a new constitution.

“Parliament will dominate this process, so it won’t just be a creation of the ruling AKP party. It implies changing the fundamental principles of the Turkish state.”

Ocalan said it was time for violence to be replaced with politics but many people remain sceptical.

One Istanbul resident said: “Why did all our martyrs give their lives? Right now a prisoner is directing the Turkish Republic. We are against this. We all want peace, but not like this. We have three martyrs in our family.”

Euronews correspondent Bora Bayraktar reported from Istanbul: “Ocalan’s call for withdrawal sparked optimism and hope in general. But nationalists are suspicious about the process and they want to see concrete results.”