Kurdish issue heads to Turkish Parliament

Nov. 3, 2009 at 12:16 PM

ANKARA, Turkey, Nov. 3 (UPI) -- Pro-Kurdish leaders in Turkey called for delays on talks on the Kurdish initiative due to conflicts with the key anniversary for the republic.

Ankara submitted a motion to Parliament to consider a series of initiatives intended to find a political solution to the so-called Kurdish question.

Turkey has struggled with Kurdish separatist ambitions for decades. Pro-Kurdish parties, for their part, made considerable gains in municipal elections earlier this year.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan signed a motion to discuss the issue and sent it on to members of Parliament on Tuesday, Turkish daily Hurriyet reports. Lawmakers had scheduled Nov. 10 for considerations, the 71st anniversary of the death of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the Turkish Republic.

Opposition lawmakers in the Republican People's Party, or CHP, rejected the proposed date, saying the measure was dishonorable to Ataturk.

"Should we be discussing the Kurdish move on a day that Turkish flag flies at half-staff?" asked CHP leader Deniz Baykal.

Parliamentary consideration comes on the heels of a move by PKK leaders to form "peace groups" who would surrender to Turkish authorities as part of the reconciliation effort.

That program was met with mixed reaction by Turkish leaders and the public.

Ankara postponed further returns of Kurdish separatist from Europe in response to the outcry.

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