Demirtas: Turkey’s Kurdish conflict impacting Syria, migrant crises
Selahattin Demirtas said the international community should call on the Turkish government and the PKK for a ceasfire
The leader of Turkey’s pro-Kurdish opposition said conflict in the country’s largely Kurdish southeast had grown into an international problem, feeding into war in neighboring Syria, and urged allies to do more to push for a ceasefire.
Unrest in the NATO member state, which is negotiating to join the European Union, has turned parts of the southeast into a war zone. Kurdish militants have dug trenches and erected barricades in towns and cities, and the death toll has climbed into the hundreds as the security forces try to flush them out.
It is also complicating efforts to stage Syrian peace talks.
“The international community should call on both the Turkish government and the PKK for a ceasefire and a return to healthy negotiations, and they must make this call repeatedly,” Selahattin Demirtas, co-leader of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), the third largest party in the Turkish parliament, told Reuters.
“Turkey’s domestic peace is not an issue for Turkey alone. It is directly related to the resolution of the Syrian conflict and to the migration problem in Europe,” he said in an interview on Wednesday in Brussels, where he was participating in a Kurdish conference in the European parliament.
Ankara’s army, the second largest in NATO, is fighting on two fronts, against Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) fighters and the threat from ISIS in Syria and Iraq, both bordering Turkey. The country has seen a series of bombings, most recently an Istanbul suicide attack that killed ten German tourists.
The conflict with the PKK, after the breakdown of a two-and- a-half-year ceasefire, has complicated efforts by a U.S.-led international coalition, of which Turkey is a member, to fight ISIS. Turkey, the United States and European Union all classify the PKK - which says it is fighting for Kurdish autonomy - as a terrorist organization.
But Washington sees the Syrian Kurdish PYD, which has links to the PKK, as a useful ally. Ankara views it as a terrorist group and does not want it making territorial gains that could stoke Kurdish separatism at home.
Demirtas described Turkey’s opposition to the PYD taking part in Syrian peace talks planned in Geneva as an “emotional reflex”, saying the group was vital to the negotiations.
Turkey is sheltering more than 2.5 million Syrian migrants, according to U.N. and government figures, and has agreed with the EU to do more to stop their exodus to Europe.
Demirtas, who denies accusations that his party has links to the militants, said the latest military operations had killed around 200 civilians, 70 of them children. Hundreds of thousands of civilians had been affected, many having to leave their homes or shut their businesses.
The EU has called for an immediate ceasefire.
The government says civilians are not being targeted in the operation and blames the PKK for bringing its campaign, which has killed over 40,000 since 1984, to city centres. President Tayyip Erdogan, who eased some restrictions on Kurdish culture in his early years in power, has vowed to destroy the PKK.
Authorities widened a curfew in the region’s largest city Diyarbakir on Wednesday. Hundreds, including children and the elderly, fled curfew-bound areas of its historic Sur district as gunfire and blasts resounded.
Rumors and wrangling over a Russian base near TurkeyIt seems Turkey is not interested in the settlement of Syrian conflict the way the ... Middle East Opinion
Erdogan eyes new constitution, powerful presidencyErdogan says ‘New Turkey’ needs new constitution and executive presidential system Middle East
EU confident Turkey to get 3 bn Euro refugee aid despite delayEU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini expressed confidence Turkey would soon ... Middle East
Turkey prosecutors seek life terms for two anti-Erdogan journalistsThe two journalists were charged for revealing a report stating Turkey's Erdogan ... Print
Spain arrests nine accused of association with the PKKOf those arrested, eight were from Spain and one from Turkey World News
ISIS ‘plans to kidnap Russian tourists’ in TurkeyRussia warned on Wednesday that 'ISIS leaders plan to take hostages from among ... Middle East
Turkish PM Davutoglu says Turkey respects Iraq's territorial integrityTurkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said only the legitimate Syrian opposition ... News
Rocket fire from Syria ‘wounds two’ in Turkey: reportsThe incident comes after one person was killed and one more seriously wounded ... Middle East
Biden: PKK is terror group ‘plain and simple,’ threat to Turkey like ISISThe U.S. vice president made his remark during his trip to Turkey Middle East
Turkey detains 23 ISIS suspects and 21 children on Syria border: ArmyTurkish forces have detained 23 suspected ISIS militants along with 21 children ... Middle East
Biden and Erdogan aim to ramp up ISIS fightThe White House said they also talked about the ‘importance of de-escalating ... Middle East
U.S.: Turkey can do more to fight ISISThe defeat of ISIS 'needs to occur, it will occur … first and foremost in Syria ... Middle East