February 25, 2013 - 18:37 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Jailed Kurdish militant leader Abdullah Ocalan will call a ceasefire at the Kurdish New Year next month, moving forward a peace process with Turkey aimed at ending his group's 28-year-old insurgency, media reports said on Monday, February 25, according to Reuters.
Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said a planned withdrawal of Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants from Turkey after a ceasefire was established would begin the process of ending a conflict which has killed more than 40,000 people.
The premier, criticized for negotiating with Ocalan - a man reviled by most Turks, called for national unity on peace efforts.
Ocalan, head of the PKK, has been holding peace talks with Turkey since last October and met a delegation of Kurdish politicians at the weekend to discuss the negotiations.
At those talks, on the island of Imrali near Istanbul, he signaled the PKK may release Turkish state officials it is holding, according to a statement read by the politicians. Several newspapers on Monday reported details of a timetable to end the conflict.
"Ocalan will make a ceasefire call to the PKK at Newroz for a lasting peace," the liberal Radikal daily said, referring to the March 21 Kurdish New Year. The Yeni Safak newspaper, which is close to the government, carried a similar report. They did not disclose their sources.
Only a few Turkish officials are familiar with details of the negotiations and lawmakers from the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) who visited Ocalan on Saturday only conveyed the brief statement from the PKK leader.
"My health is good but I am getting old. I want to see peace before I die," the Milliyet daily quoted Ocalan, 63, as saying in Imrali where he has been held in virtual isolation since his capture in 1999.
The timetable for ending the conflict envisages a gradual withdrawal of several thousand militants from Turkey after the ceasefire call and Yeni Safak said the PKK fighters would begin leaving Turkey between March and June.