President cites Oslo talks to justify exclusion of third-party from Kurdish peace process

President cites Oslo talks to justify exclusion of third-party from Kurdish peace process

President cites Oslo talks to justify exclusion of third-party from Kurdish peace process

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan speaks with his Nigerian counterpart during the Turkey-Africa summit in Equatorial Guinea. DHA Photo

Time has proven that the involvement of any third party would further complicate Turkey’s Kurdish peace process instead of facilitating it, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said, citing the failure of a series of meetings known as the “Oslo talks” as one result of such involvement.

“Whether it’s the U.S. or something else. We have experienced these kinds of things in the past and in very different places. As you know, we experienced it in the Oslo talks. Third parties, fourth parties, whatever it is, how these kinds of things developed was revealed,” Erdoğan told a small group of reporters on board of his presidential jet.

His words came amid recently voiced suggestions that an international mediator, possibly the United States, could be involved to get the peace talks between the government and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) back on track. The term “Oslo talks” was a reference to the dialogue between state officials and the PKK in the Norwegian capital between 2009 and 2011. The talks collapsed after a PKK attack killed 13 soldiers near Diyarbakır in July 2011.

“The country’s own children should resolve this matter. For years, we have lived together in this country as Kurds and Turks,” Erdoğan said.

“We have never used a term such as ‘Kurdish terrorism.’ Why? Because, among my Kurdish citizens, there are people who have nothing to do with terrorism. There is a separatist terrorist organization which is exploiting my Kurdish citizens. Against all odds, we will resolve this problem among ourselves, as Kurdish, Turkish, Circassian, and Laz citizens of Turkey,” he added.

The PKK has waged a three-decade insurgency for self-rule and greater rights in southeastern Turkey, but has largely observed a ceasefire since March 2013 amid a fragile ongoing peace process.

“We cannot resolve it with the U.S. For years, the British went to Kandil [Mountains in northern Iraq where the PKK has its headquarters]. It was also performing as a ‘third party.’ This was not able to accomplish anything; on the contrary, it further complicated this process. The same actors played a role in Oslo too. Nothing positive emerged from there either,” said Erdoğan, who served as the prime minister of the current ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) from 2003 until being elected to his current post in August this year.

He declined to elaborate on his “the British went to Kandil” remarks, or on whether the British played a role as the third party during the Oslo talks.

“As Kurds and Turks, from now on, we must pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps,” Erdoğan stressed.