Turkish and Kurdish press bid farewell to arms

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Some thousands of supporters demonstrate waving various PKK flags and images of jailed Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan, in southeastern Turkish city of DiyarbakirImage source, AP
Image caption,
Ocalan urged his PKK fighters to leave Turkish soil

Newspapers in Turkey generally agree that there is no turning back this time after the jailed Kurdish rebel leader, Abdullah Ocalan, announced a ceasefire. Even though attempts at a truce have failed in the past, both sides now want change, commentators say.

"A farewell to arms" is the headline on two leading Turkish dailies, Milliyet and Posta, conveying the sense of optimism. Another paper, The Star, calls it a "Good Thursday agreement".

Many writers also sound a note of caution, saying that this is just the beginning. A pro-Kurdish commentator says the Turkish government will be expected to make the next move after Ocalan's gesture.

Asli Aydintasbas in centrist Milliyet

Yesterday was a historic day in the destiny of this country. Do not grumble, do not be obsessed by the details… The word "peace" has been mentioned in the past, but for the first time there is a strong will [for peace].

Society is very tired. No separatist movement in the world has gone on for 30 years. This threshold was reached not only because of [years of] accumulated exhaustion but also because of regional developments. That is why there should be no return.

Ocalan has been persuaded into peace. We should congratulate those who persuaded him… The peace that Ocalan is persuaded for is a multilingual, multi-ethnic and multicultural "Pax Ottomanica" (Ottoman peace) rather than a "democratic republic". Why not?

One should congratulate Prime Minister [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan as well, as he could be the key to start a new political path which leaves denial and destructive policies behind and bases itself on solutions, negotiations and the rights of the Kurds… Erdogan showed courage and the Kurds replied to them with the same emphasis on a solution.

According to a survey by Haberturk [news channel], 63% of the nation does not accept negotiations with Ocalan. A similar percentage want [the word] "Turk" to remain in the constitution. Prime Minister Erdogan has taken this historic step with awareness of these facts. This is a very brave step for a politician.

In three months, Turkey has come to the point of ending a 30-year war. Yes, we are only on the bottom rung. The real struggle will actually begin now… I am sure now there will be some people who will find every kind of excuse [not to move on].

The struggle for freedom and democracy has reached a new phase in Newroz [New Year] 2013. This phase will definitely result in the democratic settlement of the Kurdish question and Turkey's democratisation.

Ocalan has clearly shared his most reasonable proposals on behalf of the Kurdistan people… A process which is also binding on the Turkish government has begun… The Turkish government should swiftly take the steps which were allegedly agreed upon and set forth in a written agreement concluded at Imrali [jail].

By shouldering his historic responsibility now, Ocalan wants to encourage not only the movement that he is leading and the Kurdish people but all peoples in Turkey to make a historic move. He is trying to show that Kurdish-Turkish relations have been redefined historically and that living as equal and free brothers is possible.

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