First Published: 2013-01-22

 

Erdogan to Kurdish rebels: Lay down arms and get safe passage

 

Turkish PM says his government is determined to settle three-decade Kurdish conflict, will guarantee safe passage for rebels wishing.

 

Middle East Online

‘You are free to go to any country you like’

ANKARA - Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Tuesday his government was determined to settle the three-decade Kurdish conflict and would guarantee safe passage for rebels wishing to leave the country.

"If you are sincere and honest, you lay down your arms," Erdogan told his ruling party lawmakers in parliament, referring to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

"If you don't want to live in this country, you are free to go to any country you like. We assure you that ... we'll do our best not to let what happened at our borders before happen again," he said.

Turkey, Iraq, Syria and Iran all have Kurdish minorities in regions straddling their common borders.

In the past there have been clashes between Turkey's security forces and the PKK as they were leaving the country for northern Iraq where the group enjoys safe haven.

Ankara has acknowledged that a fresh round of talks was being held between Turkey's secret services and the jailed Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan with the ultimate aim of disarming the rebels.

Turkish media have speculated that the nascent talks have produced a roadmap to end the long-running insurgency in Turkey, which has claimed 45,000 lives, mostly Kurdish. But the reported roadmap has not been confirmed by either party.

Erdogan's remarks came as six PKK rebels -- including two women -- were killed in clashes with Turkish security forces near the Syrian border, a security source said.

The conflict erupted in the village of Dogancay in the southeast some 50 kilometres (30 miles) from the Syrian border and was continuing, the source added.

Erdogan said his government wanted peace but would not make concessions on fighting against "terrorists".

"We have opened our hearts to our Kurdish brothers. We did not drop bombs on them. We are dropping bombs on terrorists," Erdogan said.

"Today and tomorrow our fight against terrorists will persevere. There is no concession there."

The PKK, which took up arms for autonomy in the Kurdish majority southeast in 1984, is branded as a terrorist group by much of the international community in addition to Turkey.

 

UN urges Lebanon parliament to elect president

Mideast wars cause 13 million school dropouts

Syria, Yemen conflicts on Obama-King Salman talks

Car bomb kills 10 in Syria regime bastion Latakia

White House wins enough Senate support for Iran deal

Death toll in IS Yemen mosque attack rises to 32

Suicide bombers hit Shiite mosque in Yemen capital: witnesses

Netanyahu threatens to shoot stone-throwers

David Petraeus: Use Al-Qaeda fighters to battle IS

12 Syrian migrants die off Turkish coast

Saudi top cleric slams Iran prophet movie

Iran police to confiscate cars of 'poorly veiled' women

Libya's Tripoli authorities undecided on joining peace talks

Lebanon protesters escalate “You Stink” campaign

Turkey transfers British reporters to new jail

Two Yemeni Red Cross staff killed

Qatar to begin enforcing key labour reform law from November

Syria war takes its toll on heritage riches

US carries out secret drone campaign in Syria

Gunmen kidnap 17 Turks in Iraq capital

Turkey government says it 'had no role' in reporters' arrest

IS claims Tripoli car bomb near oil firm

Dispute with Israel government keeps Christian schools shut

Kuwait charges 24 'linked to Iran' with plotting attacks

Turkey police raid anti-Erdogan media group after British reporters jailed

New Turkey caretaker government holds first meeting

Dozens of Lebanon protesters occupy environment ministry

Shebab attack Somalia AU base

Will Erdogan's political gamble solve Turkey poll impasse?

UN confirms Palmyra temple destroyed

Over 10,000 Icelanders ready to welcome Syrians

Libya loyalist forces battle IS jihadists in Benghazi

South Sudan peace deal in jeopardy

Pressure builds on Europe as refugee crisis exposes splits

Israel confirms jail for Druze ex-MP over visit to Syria

Egypt much delayed elections to start on October 17

Palmyra temple appears ‘largely intact’ after ISIS blast

Turkey to offer cash rewards for tips on ‘terrorists’

Yemen children's hospital on the verge of shutting down

In gruesome video, ISIS shows burning alive of Iraq Shiite fighters

Four years after famine, situation in Somalia remains alarming

A year on, recapture of Yazidi hub remains a distant prospect

IS jihadists move closer than ever to central Damascus

EU leaders call for action to defend migrants’ 'dignity'

IS blows up parts of famed Palmyra temple