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Last Updated: Thursday, 14 October, 2004, 11:23 GMT 12:23 UK
EU award for freed Kurd activist
Leyla Zana
Zana said the EU could promote reconciliation in Turkey
A leading Kurdish activist, Leyla Zana, has received the European Parliament's Sakharov prize for human rights, after a decade spent in jail in Turkey.

Mrs Zana, who was released in June, praised the Turkish government for its "revolutionary changes" aimed at meeting EU membership criteria.

Mrs Zana was elected to the Turkish parliament, but was jailed in 1994 for alleged links to Kurdish rebels.

Since then Turkey has moved to improve its judiciary and Kurdish rights.

In a recommendation last week, the European Commission said Ankara had met all the EU criteria to start membership negotiations.

EU leaders will make the final decision at a summit on 17 December.

Accepting her prize, Mrs Zana said it was evident that the process engaged with the EU had contributed to the changes in Turkey, but she added the Turkish government "must be a lot more resolute".

On Wednesday, she urged Kurdish insurgents to give up their weapons and contribute to the peace process.

The EU's annual prize was launched in 1988 in honour of Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov.

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