Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 07/2013

An Uncertain Road to Peace: Domestic and Regional Challenges in the Turkish-Kurdish Process

Emanuela Pergolizzi

June 2013

Istituto Affari Internazionali


After almost three decades of armed struggle, negotiations between the Turkish government and the jailed leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Abdullah Öcalan, offer a glimmer of hope to end Turkey’s most deadly conflict, which has cost up to 40,000 lives until now. Turkey’s direct and indirect negotiations with the Kurdish leader have a long history, dating back to the early nineties. New domestic and regional conditions, however, suggest that the current peace effort has unprecedented chances of success. At the same time, a Turkish-Kurdish peace depends not only on an agreement between the government and the PKK, but also on Turkey’s rise as a mature democracy in its turbulent region. The European Union, which could play a decisive anchoring role in the country’s democratization, has taken a step back, missing its chance of being a facilitator in this long standing conflict. Will a Turkish-Kurdish peace overcome its domestic and regional challenges? Will 2013 be remembered as the turning-point on the road to long-lasting peace in Turkey?