ISTANBUL, June 2 (Reuters) – Turkey’s peace talks with Kurdish rebels are advancing despite recent unrest in the southeast, representatives of both sides said, and could boost Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s hopes of becoming president.
Erdogan is widely expected to run in Turkey’s first direct presidential election in August and support from its Kurdish minority, which accounts for around a fifth of the population, could be key to his chances of success.
He initiated peace talks with jailed militant leader Abdullah Ocalan in 2012 to end a three-decade insurgency which has killed 40,000 people. Increased militant activity and street protests in recent months have sowed fears over prospects for a final deal.
However, Ocalan told a delegation of pro-Kurdish politicians visiting him on his prison island of Imrali, near Istanbul, on Sunday that “the process has reached a new stage.”