Top EU official calls for ceasefire, return to Kurdish peace process

Top EU official calls for ceasefire, return to Kurdish peace process

Top EU official calls for ceasefire, return to Kurdish peace process

AA photo

EU Commissioner for Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn has called for an urgent ceasefire and a return to peace talks, stressing that measures taken by Turkey must be “targeted and proportional” and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) must lay down its arms. 

“The peace process remains the best opportunity in a generation to solve a conflict that has claimed far too many lives,” Hahn said during a speech at the European Parliament on Jan. 20. 

He described the situation in Turkey’s southeast - which has been marked by long-lasting curfews, disrupted essential services, and hundreds of casualties - as “extremely disquieting.”

“In all our interactions with Turkey we continue to urge all parties to guarantee the rule of law in the country and to call for an immediate ceasefire and an urgent return to the Kurdish peace process,” the commissioner said. 

All parties involved in the conflict have responsibilities to ensure a return to political dialogue, Hahn argued, which included an end to armed attacks and autonomy declarations on the part of PKK militants. 

Meanwhile, the Turkish state must ensure that operations against the PKK are “proportionate and targeted,” he added. 

“The proportionality and legality of such operations must be ensured and should comply with international human rights standards,” Hahn said, citing weeks-long curfews and disruptions to basic services such as healthcare as causes of concern. 

Hahn stressed that the situation in Turkey’s southeast cannot be evaluated in isolation, as it is interwoven with the conflict in Syria. 

“We must be very careful not to allow the breakdown of the Kurdish peace process and current tensions in the southeast to fuel further tensions there,” Hahn told EP delegates.

Curfews remain in place in Cizre in Şırnak province and the Sur district of Diyarbakır province, imposed on Dec. 14 and Dec. 2 respectively. A curfew in place since Dec. 14 in Silopi, also in Şırnak province, was partially lifted on Jan. 19.

The Turkish army says hundreds of militants have been killed in “anti-terror” operations while the Turkish Human Rights Foundation stated on Jan. 9 that 162 civilians, including 32 children, 29 women and 24 elderly people, have been killed in operations since August 2015.