Kurdish Workers’ party (PKK) chief Abdullah Ocalan called for ceasefire after thirty years of armed struggle. He urged the fighters of his PKK organisation to withdraw from Turkey. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish Prime Minister, cautiously welcomed the call and announced that Turkish security forces would not undertake new operations against Kurdish rebels if the ceasefire is implemented. The armed conflict started back in 1984 and has its roots in the demand for autonomy by the country’s 14 million Kurdish minority – the wider region harbours some 30 million Kurds. Tens of thousands on both sides have been killed over the past decades. The PKK stated that it no longer strives for an independent Kurdistan, but would settle for autonomy within Turkey. Since last year, peace negotiations are held between Abdullah Ocalan and the Turkish government following domestic pressure on the government to halt the violent attacks, which grew more frequent and intense in 2012.

Impact on country risk

The lingering Kurdish question probably poses the main threat to domestic stability in Turkey. The ceasefire announcement is an important step toward ending the three decade-long armed conflict between the Turkish state and Kurdish rebels. The Turkish government will benefit from domestic peace and the Kurds hope for more rights under the new constitution that is currently under discussion. However, the peace deal is far from done as constitution reform is a long process and tough negotiations on Kurdish prisoners are still lying ahead. Several previous ceasefire attempts between both sides have failed in the past.

Analyst: Pascaline della Faille, p.dellafaille@credendogroup.com