A wave of reactions, mostly positive, followed Abdullah Öcalan’s call for cease-fire and withdrawal of Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) fighters from Turkish territories to northern Iraq, which also raised hope for ultimate peace in Turkey’s Southeast.
Kurdish administrations in northern Iraq that enjoy strong alliance with Turkey welcomed Öcalan’s message. Massoud Barzani, the president of the semi-autonomous Kurdish region in Iraq, welcomed the message in a statement and showed his support for it. “This is what we have been calling for for a long time: the settlement of the Kurdish issue through political means not military ones,” Barzani said in the statement. The Kurdish president added, “Peace talks should be considered as a strategic process, not as a tactical or a temporary one.”
The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) also sees Öcalan’s message as a positive one. “The KRG welcomes and supports any step from both Kurds and the Turkish government to solve the Kurdish issue through peaceful and political means,” it said in a statement, also calling on both sides not to let anyone sabotage this peace process.
Jalal Talabani’s Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) has also shown its support for the message, saying, “We hope Turkey’s new constitution will give equal rights to Turkey’s all ethnic groups.” The PUK’s statement also hoped for an agreement between Turkey’s AKP and the PKK in Turkish parliament.
The main opposition parties in the KRG also supported the message. Nawshirwan Mustafa, leader of the Gorran Movement for Change, an opposition group in the KRG, was among the crowd in Diyarbakır on March 21 when Öcalan’s message was read out. The Kurdistan Islamic Union, another opposition party that is considered to be ideologically close to the AKP, also showed its full support for the message, saying, “We hope everyone sees this message as a turning point in solving the Kurdish issue in Turkey.” The statement also thanked both AKP leader Tayyip Erdoğan and Turkish President Abdullah Gül that are “engineers of the peace talks.”
Many Kurdish intellectuals and influential figures also welcomed the message and considered it an important change in Abdullah Öcalan’s and PKK’s mentality.
Meanwhile some ultra-nationalist Kurds especially those living in Europe condemned the message and accused Öcalan for betraying the Kurdish struggle for independence.