Turkey: Erdogan hints at talks with Kurdish rebel movement


A Kurdish man holds up a flag of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) during Noruz spring festival in the Lebanese capital Beirut on March 21, 2012.


Joseph Eid

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has indicated "there could be more talks" with the rebel Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) Turkey has been fighting for decades, according to local media, reported Reuters

The PKK, considered a terrorist group by Turkey, Europe, and the US, has been waging a low-level guerilla war from across the border since the 1940s in violence that has left tens of thousands dead. 

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The conflict has escalated recently, however, with the recent launch of a Turkish military operation intended to stamp out insurgent activity. 

Tensions from nearby Syria have also factored in. Erdogan recently charged Syrian President Bashar al-Assad with giving PKK militants weapons, reported Reuters

Ergodan told the local Kanal 7 network late Wednesday that discussions could take place on an island south of Istanbul, according to Reuters, but he insisted that the rebels first lay down their arms and observe a ceasefire. 

The Turkish leader also lashed out at European countries for not doing more to crack down on the drug trade that Turkey believes largely funds PKK operations, according to Lebanon's Daily Star

"The West doesn't want us to solve this [PKK] problem," he said, reported the Star. "Let me say it openly. Germany doesn't want it, France doesn't want it and they are not helping us on this issue. On the contrary, they are letting the terrorist chiefs freely circulate in their countries."

Erdogan's comments followed calls by a pro-Kurdish Turkish political party to reopen talks with the PKK in a bid to help end the violence, reported Reuters