While the Israel-Turkey reconciliation may have received more headlines abroad, in Turkey, the letter written by Ocalan from his prison on Imrali Island in the Sea of Marmara near Istanbul, got equal billing, and may be of even greater significance.
Davutoglu frequently compares the Kurdish insurgency to “shackles on our feet” and tells visitors: “Once we solve this problem, we will be unleashed from those shackles, and we will be able to use our full potential.”
Other officials have compared the insurgency, which has claimed an estimated 40,000 lives since it began in 1984, to a cancer. The end of the fighting, officials hope, will make Turkey a more attractive place for both investment and as a partner in regional political efforts.
“We will be rejuvenated in every sense,” was the way one official put it.
Davutoglu gave a hint of the optimism Turkish officials hold for the agreement in a visit he paid 10 days before the Ocalan letter was read to Diyarbikar, the mostly Kurdish city in southern Turkey. There, he spoke about the historic significance of reconciliation with the Kurds, who comprise a little less than one fifth of Turkey’s 80 million population.
He said the peoples of what is now Turkey were formed in several major historical waves dating back to the 3rd century B.C. “Whatever anybody says, wherever there is anyone with whom we share this common history, they are our relatives and those with whom we share our destiny,” he said in a speech at Dicli University. “That is also the main element if our foreign policy. When defining this we never differentiate between Turks, Kurds, Albanians or Bosnians. All these are peoples to which we are indebted by virtue of our shared history.”
And then he said reconciliation with the Kurdish minority would liberate Turkey to play a bigger role on the world stage.
"Just such a responsibility rests on our shoulders, my brothers,” he said. The restoration of peace in Turkey “will have a domino effect in other places,” he said. “The winds of the resolution process blowing in here with the spring breeze will result in great spring winds."