Erdogan: There is no Kurdish 'problem' in Turkey
'There is no longer a Kurdish problem in Turkey, but our Kurdish brothers and sisters have problems,' president says.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said that Turkey is not faced with a "Kurdish problem" but that the country’s Kurdish population may have problems.
"There is no longer a Kurdish problem in Turkey, but our Kurdish brothers and sisters have problems," he said during an address to mukhtars -- local community representatives -- in Ankara on Monday.
His comments follow a widely reported March 15 speech in Turkey’s western Balikesir province where the Turkish president said: "There is no Kurdish problem anymore. What else do you [Kurds] want?"
After Erdogan’s speech, a senior Kurdish politician had described the president’s claim that Turkey never had a Kurdish “problem” as a "political maneuver" ahead of June’s general election.
Selahattin Demirtas, leader of the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party, claimed that Erdogan tried to set an agenda with the purpose of making propaganda.
However, referring today to the ongoing peace process between the government and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, Erdogan said: "We have started relying on our people, including Turks and Kurds, and have been continuing to do so together. Even though some policymakers are affected by weapons, we are determined to solve this issue."
PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union. Decades of conflict between the group and the Turkish security forces has led to the deaths of some 40,000 thousand people.
The Turkish government launched in 2013 what it called "the solution process" in an effort to bring an end to the conflict.
During today's speech, Erdogan criticized some Kurdish politicians, saying: "Peace cannot be achieved in the shadow of weapons. We cannot go forward in this environment as promises are violated repeatedly and reliability is destroyed without seeing concrete steps.
"If we, as the people of this region, aim to come and stick together no outside power can cause any fit between us," he said.
He also claimed that the concept of a Kurdish "problem" has lost its validity after the solution process in Turkey.
"When I said ‘There is no Kurdish problem, anymore’, some fronts tried to deflect my words as malevolent; however my words were clearAnadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.