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Turkey PM unveils reforms. Duration: 00:28

by AFP Videos 0:29 mins

Turkey PM unveils reforms. Duration: 00:28

by AFP Videos 0:29 mins

SHOTLIST: ANKARA, SEPTEMBER 30, 2013. SOURCE: CIHAN AGENCY NO RESALE for non editorial purposes SOUNDBITE 1 Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkish Prime Minister (Turkish, 17 secs): "From now on, in private schools, it will be possible to provide formal education in a different language and dialect. In our country, education and learning can now be provided in a language other than Turkish. " -VAR Erdogan entering in the newsroom -VAR the beginning of his speech /// ------------------------------------------------------- AFP TEXT STORY: Turkey-Kurds-politics-peace,2ndlead Turkey PM announces reforms key to Kurdish peace process by Fulya OZERKAN ANKARA, Sept 30, 2013 (AFP) - Turkey on Monday moved to scrap restrictions on the use of the minority Kurdish language among democratic reforms seen as key to the stalled peace process with the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan also announced that women in the civil service, with a few exceptions, will henceforth be allowed to wear the Muslim headscarf. "Turkey is irreversibly moving in the direction of democracy," Erdogan told a news conference. "This is a historic moment, an important stage." Kurdish-language education will be permitted in private schools, and candidates in elections will be allowed to campaign in Kurdish, Erdogan announced. The reforms will also aim to ease rules preventing pro-Kurdish and other smaller parties from entering parliament, he said. Turkey has long refused to recognise the Kurds, a largely Sunni Muslim people who were considered cofounders of the new republic born from the ashes of the Ottoman Empire after World War I. The minority of some 15 million has complained of discrimination at the hands of the Turkish state, which they claim deprived them of their Kurdish identity and stigmatised them as "mountain Turks". Among other reforms the prime minister announced, schoolchildren will no longer be required to recite the pledge of allegiance -- "How happy is the one who calls himself a Turk" -- each morning. In addition, towns can revert to their previous Kurdish names, and a quirky ban on the use of three letters of the Kurdish alphabet that do not exist in Turkish will be lifted, he said. The long-awaited reforms are aimed at breaking an impasse in the peace process with the PKK, which is classified as a terrorist organisation by Turkey and many other countries. In March the PKK's jailed leader Abdullah Ocalan declared a historic ceasefire after months of clandestine negotiations with the Turkish secret service. In return for withdrawing its fighters, the PKK demanded amendments to the penal code and electoral laws as well as the right to education in the Kurdish language and a degree of regional autonomy. The PKK's olive branch raised hopes of an end to a nearly three-decade Kurdish insurgency in Turkey's southeast that has claimed more than 40,000 lives. But earlier this month the rebels announced they were suspending the withdrawal of their fighters, accusing Ankara of failing to deliver the promised reforms. Erdogan indicated Monday that scrapping a 10 percent threshold required to secure seats in Turkey's parliament would be "open to debate", noting that his Islamic-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP) had yet to introduce legislation on the reform. He also said political parties that garner more than three percent of the vote would be able to receive state aid for their election campaigns. The minimum was seven percent in the past. Parliament will discuss the proposed reforms after it returns from its summer recess on Tuesday, Erdogan said. Kurdish politicians have criticised the government for drafting the reforms without consulting with them. "We have insistently called on the government to discuss the package with us and with the public but we did not receive any response," Gulten Kisanak, co-chair of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party, told AFP last week. "In its current form, we do not believe that the package will address our demands for rights and freedoms and contribute to the peace process," she said. Civil servants will be allowed to wear headscarves -------------------------------------------------- The prime minister also said that civil servants would henceforth be allowed to wear headscarves after a long-standing ban is overturned, in a move seen as a gesture to his own grassroots. However the ban will remain in effect for judges, prosecutors, police and military personnel. Erdogan's AKP has already relaxed the ban on university students wearing headscarves. The Islamic-rooted party insists that the ban flouts freedom of conscience and undermines the right to education. Erdogan's government was hit by a wave of nationwide unrest in June that threw up the biggest challenge to his decade-plus rule. Protesters called Erdogan a "dictator", accusing him of Islamising the predominantly Muslim but staunchly secular country. --------- Turkey-religion-politics URGENT ¥¥¥ Turkey lifts ban on headscarves in public institutions ANKARA, Sept 30, 2013 (AFP) - Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday announced that his government would lift a ban on wearing headscarves in public institutions as part of reforms to boost rights. "We are lifting the ban in public institutions," said the prime minister.

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