The Decline of PKK and the Viability of a One-state Solution in Turkey

Matthew Kocher

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Abstract

Prior to the 1990s, most regional experts insisted that only a negotiated settlement could provide a solution to "the Kurdish problem" in Turkey. It was widely assumed that the uncompromising stance of the government would result in a radicalization of the Kurdish population, which would further fuel violence. This has not happened. In the late 1990s, the Turkish state defeated the insurgent organization PKK militarily, without making any important concessions to Kurdish nationalism. This article analyzes the effect of Turkey's hard-line policy on Kurdish politics. First, it is argued that PKK's collapse resulted from strategic factors and had little to do with popular support. Second, the article contends that the radicalization of Turkish Kurds in the 1990s was overstated. The median Kurdish voter probably supported center-right Turkish political parties. Intra-ethnic and cross-cutting political cleavages explain why polarization has not been the overwhelming trajectory of recent Kurdish politics in Turkey.

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Kocher, Matthew. The Decline of PKK and the Viability of a One-state Solution in Turkey. IJMS: International Journal on Multicultural Societies. 2002, vol. 4, no.1, pp. 128-147. UNESCO. ISSN 1817-4574. www.unesco.org/shs/ijms/vol4/issue1/art6

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