ANKARA, July 10 Turkey's parliament approved a
legal framework on Thursday for peace talks with Kurdish
militants in an important step towards ending a three-decade
insurgency a few weeks before a presidential election.
The bill could prove a boost for Prime Minister Tayyip
Erdogan, who is hoping to pick up Kurdish votes in his quest to
become Turkey's first directly-elected president when the nation
goes to the polls on Aug. 10.
Turkey, a NATO member state, began peace talks with jailed
Kurdish militant leader Abdullah Ocalan in 2012, in an effort to
end a 30-year-old insurgency which has killed 40,000 people.
Until now however there have been few legal provisions for
negotiating with Ocalan's banned Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK)
- labeled a terrorist organisation by the Turkish authorities,
European Union and United States.
The new law will shield from prosecution those involved in
disarming and reintegrating Kurdish rebels, as well as giving
legal protection to meetings aimed at ending the bloodshed.
Pro-Kurdish politicians have long sought such a bill, partly
to remove the risk of those involved in the talks being
prosecuted if the political climate in Turkey turns against the
peace process in the future.
The PKK took up arms in 1984 with the aim of carving out a
separate state in the southeast for Turkey's Kurds. They
subsequently moderated their demands, seeking increased
political and cultural rights which were long denied.
(Reporting by Gulsen Solaker; Writing by Jonny Hogg; Editing by
Nick Tattersall/Mark Heinrich)