Ankara is dealing with growing pressure to find a political solution to Kurdish ambitions in the region.

Decades of military conflict with the Turkey’s separatist Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, have taken their toll on the Turkish military. Meanwhile, the ruling Justice and Development Part lost out to pro-Kurdish parties, notably the Democratic Society Party, or DTP, in March municipal elections.

Turkish leaders have suggested there were political solutions in the works to tackle the issue peacefully, though Ahmet Turk , the leader of the DTP, criticized Ankara for making empty gestures, Turkish daily Hurriyet reports.

"We can now see that 30 years of war, operations and denial politics could not solve the problem, and the powers that be in Turkey today are afraid to confront the reality of the Kurdish problem," he said.

The PKK, for its part, has offered to extend a unilateral cease-fire to allow the political process to take hold, though Turk expressed doubt a political settlement was even considered among the political leadership in Ankara.

"It is clear that there is no project on the table despite the president saying ‘Good things will happen’ and ‘The Kurdish problem is Turkey’s most important problem,’" he said.

Over 44,000 Turkish soldiers and Kurdish PKK guerrillas have been killed since 1984 when the Turkey’s Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) took up arms for self-rule in the mainly Kurdish southeast of Turkey (Turkey-Kurdistan). A large Turkey’s Kurdish community openly sympathise with the Kurdish PKK rebels. Turkey refuses to recognize its Kurdish population as a distinct minority.

The PKK demanded Turkey’s recognition of the Kurds’ identity in its constitution and of their language as a native language along with Turkish in the country’s Kurdish areas, the party also demanded an end to ethnic discrimination in Turkish laws and constitution against Kurds, ranting them full political freedoms.

The PKK is considered a ‘terrorist’ organization by Ankara, U.S., the PKK continues to be on the blacklist list in EU despite court ruling which overturned a decision to place the Kurdish rebel group PKK and its political wing on the European Union’s terror list.

Turkey refuses to recognize its Kurdish population as a distinct minority. It has allowed some cultural rights such as limited broadcasts in the Kurdish language and private Kurdish language courses with the prodding of the European Union, but Kurdish politicians say the measures fall short of their expectations.

UPI-Tuesday, 9 June 2009