Although it's still quite early to know which way Turkey's new peace talks with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) will go, this week saw some very encouraging signs coming out of Ankara.
Late Thursday, the Turkish parliament passed legislation that will allow defendants to use Kurdish in court, a long-standing demand put forward by Kurdish activists and politicians. Up until now, Turkish courts have regularly refused to allow Kurdish defendants to use the language during proceedings.
Also yesterday, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan reshuffled his cabinet, most significantly replacing the hawkish Interior Minister Naim Sahin with Muammer Guler, a former governor of Istanbul who originally hails from southeast Turkey. Sahin, an old school nationalist, had managed to enrage Kurds on numerous occasions, especially in the wake of the 2011 Uludere incident, in which 34 Kurdish villagers were killed in an errant military operation. At the time, Sahin dismissed the killed villagers as "extras" in a PKK operation and said there was no need for Turkey to apologize for the incident.
This new Kurdish initiative still has a long way to go, but it already seems off to a better start than the Erdogan government's previous effort to resolve the issue. The steps taken by Ankara this week certainly are indicative of a willingness to take new steps that meet some significant Kurdish demands. Meanwhile, the peaceful nature of last week's mass funerals in Diyarbakir of three Kurdish activists who had been recently murdered in Paris was interpreted by many as a signal of good intentions by the Kurdish movement in Turkey.
Ankara and the Kurds still need to resolve some bigger and thornier subjects. But the good news of this week is that there seems to be an effort being made by both sides to create a level of trust ahead of figuring out those issues.