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Turkey unveils reforms for Kurdish settlement process
Monday September 30, 2013 7:03 PM, IANS

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan Monday unveiled a reform package to facilitate a settlement process aimed at ending a three-decade-long Kurdish insurgency.

Under the framework of political party amendments, parties will be able to make their election campaigns in languages other than Turkish, Erdogan said, a move that allows Kurdish politicians to hold activities in Kurdish, Xinhua reported.

Erdogan did not set a certain amendment on the threshold for a party to enter parliament, which is currently 10 percent. But he put forward alternatives, including reducing the threshold to five percent or even eliminating the barrier, which may allow more parties, including pro-Kurdish political parties, to enter parliament.

Education in languages other than Turkish in private schools will be possible, Erdogan said.

The long-awaited reforms were demanded as part of negotiations with outlawed Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK), and the package is seen as a milestone in the negotiation process with the Kurds launched in 2012.

The package is a result of Turkey's long path of democratisation, but it's not the last step of amendments to consolidate the country's democratisation, Erdogan told reporters here Monday.

Turkish authorities started peace negotiations with PKK's jailed leader Abdullah Ocalan in October last year, which led to a ceasefire between the two sides in March. In May, the PKK fighters in Turkey began moving back to their stronghold in northern Iraq.

The PKK, listed as a terrorist group by Turkey and some other countries, took up arms in 1984 in an attempt to create an ethnic homeland in southeastern Turkey.

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