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 “terrorist groups” of their immunity from prosecution.
Erdogan’s comments come days after the Turkish air force bombed camps in northern Iraq of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). The PKK said the air strikes rendered the peace process meaningless, but had 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 ahead of his departure on an official visit to China.
Turkey launched negotiations in 2012 to try to end a PKK insurgency, largely fought in the predominantly Kurdish southeast, that has killed 40,000 people since 1984.
A fragile ceasefire had been holding since March 2013, but Turkey launched the air strikes after a several police officers and soldiers were killed in attacks blamed on the PKK.
Some Kurds say that by reviving open conflict with the PKK, Erdogan is seeking to undermine support for the pro-Kurdish HDP opposition party ahead of a possible early election and stoke up nationalist sentiment.
The HDP won a surprise 13 percent of the vote in a June 7 poll, helping to deprive the AKP, which Erdogan founded, from a majority in parliament for the first time since 2002. Kurds make up nearly 20 percent of Turkey’s population of 77 million.
Turkey has shut down almost all Kurdish political parties over the years. Erdogan, who has recently accused the HDP of links to the PKK, said he opposed party closures, but urged parliament to lift the immunity of politicians with links to “terrorist groups”.