ISTANBUL: The jailed leader of the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK) on Saturday made a “historic” call to the separatists to hold a disarmament conference, a key step in efforts to end Turkey’s 30-year Kurdish insurgency.
“As we are ushering the 30 years of conflict towards permanent peace, it is our primary goal to reach a democratic solution,” Abdullah Ocalan said in a message relayed by Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) lawmaker Sirri Sureyya Onder.
“I’m calling on the PKK to hold an extraordinary congress in spring to make a strategic and historic decision on disarmament,” Onder quoted Ocalan as saying in a joint press conference with Deputy Prime Minister Yalcin Akdogan.
“This is a historic call to replace armed struggle with democratic politics.”
Onder said that both sides were “closer than ever to peace.”
The message came after an HDP delegation met with PKK rebels for talks at their base in the Kandil Mountains in Iraq on February 23 and met Ocalan himself on his prison island of Imrali on the Marmara Sea on Friday.
The press conference was of significant importance because it was the first time a message by Ocalan was read live on television and in the presence of Turkish government officials.