Turkey Seeks Kurdish Reconciliation

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ANKARA -- Turkey's government laid out long-awaited plans Friday to reconcile with the country's large Kurdish minority and end a separatist war that has cost tens of thousands of lives, prompting the main opposition party to storm out of parliament in protest.

The heated debate was symbolic of the sensitivities of the Kurdish issue in Turkey, which has only recently begun to be debated openly and impartially.

Opponents accused the government of pandering to terrorists. Many also fear that its "democratic initiative" is part of a wider plan by the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, which has Islamist roots, to dismantle a secular, centralized state model in which the military for decades played a controlling role. Opponents see acknowledgement of Turkish military abuses against Kurds as an attempt to undermine the military.

Under the plan outlined Friday, Turkey would get a new constitution to replace the current one, which was drafted by a military junta in the early 1980s. Private broadcasting in the Kurdish language would be made legal, adding to the public Kurdish-language channel launched in January. The government would also establish an independent body to deal with complaints against the security forces. Villages given Turkish language names since the 1950s would get their former Kurdish names back.

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