Turkey: Peace impossible with Kurds
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday it was impossible to continue a peace process with Kurdish militants and urged parliament to strip...
Ankara: Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday it was impossible to continue a peace process with Kurdish militants and urged parliament to strip politicians with links to them of immunity from prosecution. His comments come days after the Turkish air force bombed camps in northern Iraq belonging to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), following a series of attacks on police officers and soldiers in Turkey blamed on the Kurdish militant group.
The PKK said the air strikes, launched virtually in parallel with strikes against Islamic State fighters in Syria, rendered the peace process meaningless but stopped short of formally pulling out. "It is not possible for us to continue the peace process with those who threaten our national unity and brotherhood," Erdogan told a news conference in Ankara before departing on an official visit to China.
Western allies have said they recognise Turkey's right to self-defence but have urged the NATO member not to allow peace efforts with the PKK to collapse. While deeming the PKK a terrorist organisation, Washington depends heavily on allied Syrian Kurdish fighters in battling Islamic State in Syria.
An emergency NATO meeting in Brussels on Tuesday offered political support for Turkey's campaigns in Syria and Iraq, and Erdogan signalled Turkey may have a "duty" to become more involved. For NATO allies, the prospect of Turkey, which borders Iran, Iraq and Syria, fighting a domestic conflict against Kurdish as well as Islamist fighters is a deep concern. But for many in Turkey, Kurdish rebellion remains the primary national threat.
Besir Atalay, spokesman for the ruling AK Party, said it was too soon to declare the peace process over and said it could resume if "terrorist elements" put down arms and left Turkey. "There is currently a stagnation in the mechanism but it would restart where it left off if these intentions emerge," he told a press conference in Ankara.