ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Jailed Kurdish militant leader Abdullah Ocalan said his movement’s 30-year war with Turkey’s government was nearing its end through democratic negotiations, Firatnews agency reported.
Ankara began peace talks with the Kurdish leader in 2012 in a bid to end a 30-year-old insurgency which has killed 40,000 people, riven the country and battered its economy. A ceasefire called by Ocalan in March 2013 has largely held.
“This 30-year war is nearing its end through democratic negotiations,” Ocalan told pro-Kurdish lawmakers visiting him in prison on Aug. 15, the 30th anniversary of launch of the revolt by his the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), Firatnews reported on Saturday.
“This process has profound historic and social significance and has the potential to be a model for the peaceful resolution of serious problems in the whole region, not just in Turkey,” he added, according to the report which cited a statement by the lawmakers from the pro-Kurdish People’s Democracy Party (HDP).
Ocalan’s reported statement came a week after Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s victory in a presidential election.
Erdogan has invested significant political capital in Kurdish peace efforts, boosting cultural and language rights for Kurds at the risk of alienating some of his grassroots support.
The PKK took up arms against Turkey in 1984 with the aim of carving out a separate state in the southeast for the country’s Kurds. They subsequently moderated their demands, seeking increased political and cultural rights which were long denied.
Reporting by Seda Sezer; Editing by Andrew Heavens