October 23, 2016

Erdogan Urges Europe To Stop Backing Kurd Rebels

Erdogan warned Europe its cities faced the kind of repeated attacks that Turkey has suffered in recent months. (File Photo)

ANKARA:  Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan today called on European countries to stop supporting the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), days after a bombing claimed by Kurdish rebels killed 35 people in Ankara.

Erdogan warned Europe its cities faced the kind of repeated attacks that Turkey has suffered in recent months, some of which have been claimed by Kurdish fighters and others blamed on the Islamic State group.

“Despite this clear reality, European countries are paying no attention, as if dancing in a minefield,” he said.

The Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK), a radical Kurdish group with ties to the PKK, claimed responsibility for the suicide car bombing that ripped through a busy transport hub in the capital Ankara on Sunday.

Turkish officials accuse the little-known TAK of being a front for PKK attacks on civilian targets, but the PKK, which is embroiled in a bloody conflict with the security forces in the southeast, claims the TAK is a splinter group over which it has no control.

The TAK also claimed a car bombing in Ankara last month that killed 29 people.

Erdogan’s swipe at Europe came as EU leaders met Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu to discuss a plan to curb the flow of migrants that have poured across the Mediterranean into Europe via Turkey over the past year.

He took aim at Belgium in particular for allowing the PKK to erect a tent behind the EU building in Brussels where the talks were being held.

“Be honest,” said Erdogan. “This means surrendering to terror. They have surrendered to terror.”

‘Feeding a snake’

Anxious to cut a deal with Ankara that would see it take back all undocumented migrants landing in Greece from Turkey, European leaders have been muted in their criticism of Erdogan’s crackdown on journalists, academics and activists opposed to his policies.

But a handful of leaders, including Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel, have openly taken issue with Turkey’s worsening rights record and its renewed conflict with the PKK.

Speaking at a ceremony in Canakkale  commemorate Turks killed in the 1915 Battle of Gallipoli Erdogan told Europe, where the PKK has considerable support among Kurdish exiles: “You are feeding a snake in your bosom.”

Turkey is on a knife-edge after five major bombings since July that have killed over 200 people.

The German embassy in Ankara, German consulate in Istanbul and German schools in both cities remained closed for a second day Friday following what Berlin called “very serious” indications of planned attacks, two months after 12 German tourists were killed in a suicide attack in Istanbul.

The US embassy in Ankara also issued a warning to its citizens in Turkey to exercise particular caution and avoid political gatherings ahead of Kurdish New Year celebrations at the weekend that have been a flashpoint for demonstrations in the past.

The authorities have banned large gatherings over the holiday in several cities.

On Thursday, an explosives-laden car was found parked outside a government building in the Hani district of Diyarbakir province in the mainly Kurdish southeast, security sources said.

The vehicle was defused by police bomb disposal experts.

The PKK, which is listed as a terror group by Ankara and its Western allies, launched an insurgency against the Turkish state in 1984 in search of greater autonomy for Kurds.

The conflict, which resumed last summer after a two-year ceasefire collapsed, has claimed some 40,000 lives.

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