Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has accused the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) of paving the way for the collapse of Ankara’s reconciliation process with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Erdoğan on Friday said during a visit to the predominantly Kurdish city of Diyarbakır that it was the HDP’s “bad intentions, ulterior motives and hidden agenda” that ended a two-and-a-half-year cease-fire in 2015.
“Yes, we started the settlement process, but we aren’t the ones who ended it,” the president said, referring to the cease-fire that was declared by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in 2012 with the outlawed PKK in an effort to resolve the ongoing conflict and only lasted until July 2015.
Erdoğan said his government started the process “sincerely, by taking every risk so that no more blood would be shed” but that the HDP “provoked, poisoned, exploited and, finally, completely destroyed” it.
Turkish authorities had conducted direct talks with Abdullah Öcalan, the jailed leader of PKK, listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US and the EU, for over two years until the summer of 2015, when the death of two police officers near the Syrian border became the official reason for its collapse.
Since then, there have been continuing clashes between the PKK and Turkish security forces. More than 40,000 people, including 5,500 security force members, have been killed in four decades of fighting between the Turkish state and the PKK.
Both Erdoğan’s AKP and its ally, the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), frequently accuse HDP, the second-largest opposition group in parliament, of ties to the PKK. The party denies the government’s claim and says it is working to achieve a peaceful solution to Turkey’s so-called Kurdish problem.
Erdoğan’s statements regarding the collapse of the process six years ago come in a time when hundreds of HDP politicians, including the party’s former co-chairs, are behind bars on terrorism charges and a closure case against the pro-Kurdish party filed by the country’s chief prosecutor is underway at the Supreme Court of Appeals.