Turkey's prime minister announced a package of reforms on Monday aimed at quelling tensions with the country's Kurdish minority, raising hopes that a decades-long battle between Kurdish rebels and Turkey's government is moving toward peace.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said at a press conference Monday that rules barring pro-Kurdish and other small parties from entering parliament would be changed, Kurdish-language education would be allowed in private schools and a ban on women wearing headscarves in public institutions would be lifted.
"This is a historic moment, an important stage," Erdogan said.
The reforms are designed to appease Turkey's minority groups, especially the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which admonished Turkey's government for failing to uphold its end of a peace agreement weeks ago.
The PKK is considered a terrorist organization by Turkey and its allies, including the United States. Ongoing battles between the party and Turkey's military have claimed more than 40,000 lives in the Kurds' nearly 30-year struggle for more rights.
Earlier this month, PKK fighters halted their planned withdrawal to northern Iraq because they said Erdogan had not made good on his end of the peace process.
It came as a surprise to many in Turkey after the PKK's jailed leader Abdullah Ocalan declared a historic cease-fire in March after months of clandestine negotiations with the Turkish secret service.
It's unclear how far Monday's announcement will go in restarting the stalled peace process. Pro-Kurdish politician Gultan Kisanak said that the reforms didn't go far enough in granting Kurds rights and that they would not advance the peace process. Ocalan and others in the PKK have yet to respond.
Al Jazeera and wire services