Turkish lawmakers have adopted a bill aimed at reviving peace talks with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
The government of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan submitted a six-article package of reforms as a bill to parliament on June 26 to facilitate the process of peace talks between the two sides.
The reforms would grant immunity to those involved in the process of peace negotiations. It will also pave the way for militants outside Turkey to give up arms and return home.
Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) also says it will appoint individuals to open a dialogue on the so-called Kurdish question.
Abdullah Öcalan, the jailed leader of the PKK, welcomed the move by the Turkish government, describing it as a “historic development.”
Hasip Kaplan, a deputy from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) also described the move as a “late but very positive step towards greater recognition of Kurds,” adding, “A legal guarantee to the peace talks has always been our top priority. It (the bill) meets our expectations.”
The PKK has been fighting for an autonomous Kurdish region in southeastern Turkey since the 1980s. The conflict has left tens of thousands of people dead.
In March 2013, Öcalan declared a historic ceasefire after months of negotiations with the Turkish government. In return, the PKK demanded amendments to the penal code and electoral laws as well as the right to education in the Kurdish language and a degree of regional autonomy.