The Justice Ministry has suspended a meeting between the jailed leader of the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and Kurdish politicians Selahattin Demirtaş and Ahmet Türk as part of peace talks aimed at ending the Kurdish conflict, Turkish media reported on Thursday, citing recent remarks by Türk as the reason.
Mardin independent deputy Türk and pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) Co-chairperson Demirtaş have applied to the ministry for permission to visit with PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan to discuss ending the Kurdish conflict which has killed tens of thousands over three decades.
However, the ministry has not yet responded to their request, a move many have linked to remarks made by Türk last week criticizing Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on recent bombings by Turkish war planes in the Kandil Mountains in northern Iraq, the location of the PKK headquarters.
Noting that everyone expects Kurds to act sensitively in order not to harm the peace initiative, Türk said,“We also expect the same sensitivity from you,” addressing the government in Diyarbakır. “You are bombing Kandil while talking about peace at the same time. What kind of a peace-loving attitude is this?” he added.
In response to Türk's remarks, Erdoğan said the state will carry on its operations against terrorists with determination and without any concessions.
“Without taking a step back, we defend and we will keep defending our country against those attacking the security forces with arms,” Erdoğan remarked, addressing a crowd in Gaziantep on Sunday.
“They are sabotaging the negotiation process by directing accusatory remarks against the government,” AK Party Deputy Chairman Hüseyin Çelik said, commenting on the reason why the meeting has been suspended.
In a rare visit, senior Kurdish politician Türk and BDP deputy Ayla Akat Ata met with Öcalan early this month on İmralı Island in the Sea of Marmara, where the PKK leader has been in virtual isolation since his capture in 1999.
Öcalan's continued influence was highlighted in November when his order, made after a visit from his brother, to end a 68-day hunger strike by PKK terrorists in prisons across Turkey was immediately obeyed.
The meeting came days after the Turkish government announced that it was discussing disarmament with the militants.
Talks with the PKK, which is designated a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and the European Union, would have been unthinkable to Turkish public opinion only a few years ago.