THE Turkish government and jailed Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan have agreed on a roadmap to end a three-decade-old insurgency that has claimed tens of thousands of lives, media reports say.
The deal was reached during a new round of talks between Ankara and Ocalan and aims to have the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) lay down arms in March, private news network NTV and Radikal newspaper reported.
An initial cessation of hostilities was to evolve into a fully-fledged ceasefire agreement over the following months, they said, without revealing their sources for the reported breakthrough.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government recently revealed that the intelligence services had for weeks been talking to Ocalan, who has been held on the island prison of Imrali south of Istanbul since his capture in 1999.
The government is expected to reciprocate the ceasefire by granting wider rights to Turkey’s Kurdish minority, whose population is estimated at up to 15 million in the 75-million nation, according to unofficial figures.
The rebels also want the release of hundreds of Kurdish activists held in prisons over links to the PKK as well as the recognition of Kurdish identity in Turkey’s new constitution, according to media sources.
But Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) warned the talks were not at the stage of fully-fledged ceasefire negotiations, arguing Ocalan would have to be freed first and given a chance to consult the grassroots.
“The conditions between the parties are just not equal,” BDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtas told fellow MPs on Tuesday.
“And by that, no, I do not mean Erdogan going into Imrali.”
Officials have not confirmed the details of the roadmap published in the media.
Hopes of a breakthrough on the Kurdish issue were heightened when two Kurdish MPs were allowed to visit Ocalan last week for the first time.
Around 45,000 people are believed to have been killed in the fighting between Turkish security forces and the rebels, who took up arms in 1984 under Ocalan’s command, to obtain self-rule in the Kurdish-majority southeast.
Previous talks floundered after the PKK leadership demanded the release of Ocalan.