ANKARA (Combined Sources)—Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday that Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party (DTP) will continue to face hostility from his government until it declares the PKK a terrorist organization, the Turkish Hurriet Newspaper reported.
DTP, the country’s main Kurdish party, has been under siege by the Turkish government for years and has been facing a possible ban by the constitutional court in what is widely recognized as being a politically charged case aimed at decapitating the party.
“They [DTP officials] say, ‘The prime minister does not meet with us.’ And what I tell them is to recognize the PKK as a terrorist organization just like the rest of the world,” Erdogan said in an interview with the Turkish NTV channel on Thursday.
DTP heavily defeated Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party in nationwide local elections in March throughout Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish south-east.
Earlier in April, a senior minister of Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) denounced the DTP victory as a threat to national security. Security force officials often accuse the DTP of being a front for the PKK, a charge strongly denied by the party and its millions of supporters.
Shortly after, Turkish authorities rounded up and detained dozens of members of the party, as part of an operation that was said to be aimed at the PKK.
The DTP has been seeking an opportunity to meet with Erdogan, who has said he is ready for such an appointment only after the Kurdish party complies with his demands to classify the PKK as a terrorist group.
“Once you [the DTP] declare it as a terrorist organization, you will see that these sort of meetings [with the government] will be based on a very different ground,” the prime minister added. “I say it very openly. But they fail in doing this. To the contrary, they have started to defend them. This, of course, makes the situation more difficult.”
The PKK, which has been seeking greater rights for Turkey’s oppressed Kurdish minority for more than two decades, has been under assault from the Turkish military since 1984. The conflict has resulted in around 17,000 extra judicial murders committed against Kurds and has further alienated one of Turkey’s largest minorities.
Erdogan scoffed at the DTP’s calls for both sides to lay down their weapons and demanded DTP’s leader, Ahmet Turk, call on the PKK to lay down its arms unilaterally.
“For example, he (Turk) calls on two parties to lay down their weapons,” Erdogan said. “What does it mean? Do the legitimate security forces lay down their weapons? Can something like that happen? What they have to do is to call on the terrorists to lay down their weapons.”
The PKK recently extended a truce until mid-July and has repeatedly called for a mutual cease-fire to be followed by peace talks with the Turkish government. The Turkish government has responded by intensifying military raids on the PKK in South-East Turkey and Northern Iraq.
The PKK’s acting leader, Murat Karayilin, said in May that the organization is not seeking a separate state, but wants equal rights for Kurds in a united Turkey.