Kurdish leader: PKK conflict with Turkey ‘coming to an end’

Jailed leader Abdullah Ocalan said Turkey was now on the verge of ‘historic developments’

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The outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party’s 30-year conflict with Turkey is coming to an end, the group’s jailed leader said on Saturday, hailing the start of a new democratic process in the country.

The PKK, which for three decades fought the Turkish authorities in a bloody insurgency seeking greater autonomy for Turkey’s Kurdish minority, launched its armed struggle with coordinated attacks on police and security forces on August 15, 1984.

But the group’s jailed leader Abdullah Ocalan said in a statement from his prison island of Imrali on the Sea of Marmara that Turkey was now on the verge of “historic developments” after its August 10 presidential elections.

“On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of our struggle, I want to state that we are on the verge of historic developments,” Ocalan said in a statement quoted by the Firat news agency which is close to the PKK.

“This 30-year-long war is -- through a major democratic negotiation -- at the stage of coming to an end.”

“The process of democratic negotiations has a profound meaning historically and socially,” he added.

Ocalan’s statement follows a meeting on Friday on Imrali between him and representatives of the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP).

The presidential election was won by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan but the HDP’s candidate Selahattin Demirtas polled a respectable 9.8 percent in what Ocalan said was a breakthrough for Turkish democracy.

He said that the HDP was capable of becoming the main opposition to Erdogan and even replace his ruling party in government in the future.

“With these results, the HDP, with its broadest base will be today’s democratic and effective opposition and the future’s democratic ruling party,” Ocalan said.

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