BRUSSELS: Turkey’s Kurdish political leader Selahattin Demirtas on Thursday urged the world to denounce Ankara’s new “unjust war” on rebel Kurds and asked the EU to push clearly for a truce.
During an unscheduled visit to Brussels, Demirtas told AFP he spoke by telephone last week with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and that he would meet with her top aide Stefano Manservisi here on Friday.
“The European Union must very clearly and openly support negotiations between the PKK and Turkey,” said the leader of the HDP party which scored a breakthrough in Turkish elections in June.
He asked why the EU no longer appeared to support two and a half years of peace talks that collapsed when Ankara launched a new bombing campaign at the end of last month against bases of the PKK, the rebel Kurdistan Workers Party, in northern Iraq.
“Why don’t they support them anymore?” Demirtas asked. “You must support the negotiations between (jailed Kurdish leader Abdullah) Ocalan and the Turkish government, and push for a ceasefire.”
He also appeared to want a clearer stand from NATO which strongly backed Turkey’s fight against Islamic State militants in Syria at emergency talks in Brussels last week even if some countries expressed concerns that strikes on Kurdish fighters could torpedo peace talks with the rebels.
“The whole world must really cry out that this war is not a just and justified war,” Demirtas said when asked what he thought of the NATO position.
Demirtas again accused the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of using strikes against IS something Washington has long called for as a cover for its main goal of striking the PKK and weakening the Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party’s (HDP) major gains in parliamentary elections in June.
He said the vast majority of air strikes have been carried out against the PKK.
Demirtas said he would meet Zubeyir Aydar, the Brussels-based executive committee member of the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) which is seen in Ankara as part of the PKK.
He said people like Aydar can “indirectly” transmit to the PKK the HDP message that the parties in conflict must return to the negotiating table.
The PKK, designated as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the EU and the United States, took up arms for self-rule in the southeast in 1984 in a conflict which has claimed tens of thousands of lives.
A ceasefire took effect in 2013, followed by negotiations.