Violence should end to start negotiations in Turkey: Blair

Violence should end to start negotiations in Turkey: Blair

ISTANBUL / Hürriyet
Violence should end to start negotiations in Turkey: Blair

Former PM Tony Blair speaks to Hürryet reporter Cansu Çamlıbel (L) in Istanbul where he attended a conference in Istanbul Bilgi University. HÜRRİYET photo, Levent ASLAN

Asked about Turkey’s fight against the PKK, former British PM Tony Blair says his government only began negotiations with the IRA, which waged a war against British rule in Ireland, once violence had stopped

Britain’s former Prime Minister Tony Blair, who sat together with the Irish Republican Army as it waged a guerrilla war against British rule in Ireland says while Britain had preliminary talks with the IRA, it only negotiated when the violence had stopped.

Peace can only emerge if peopled want it in their hearts, Blair told daily Hürriyet Oct. 11.

“What we did in the U.K. was once the IRA agreed to give up violence, then we could negotiate. But when people are still engaged in terrorism it is very hard. I mean, it is true that there were preliminary talks with the IRA but there was only a proper full-scale negotiation once they have given up violence,” said Blair.

Blair gave the following remarks on Turkey’s fight against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) comparing it to Britain’s struggle against IRA. “We did not ask the IRA to surrender; we did not even ask them to get rid of their weapons to negotiate. But what we said to them was, ‘You got to be clear that we are not meeting with a threat in the background that if we don’t do what you say then you will start killing people. There has got to be an acceptance that it is peaceful means from now on.’ We created a set of criteria for them being engaged in this peace process. Those criteria included and most important was giving up violence,” he said.

‘Erdoğan does not need advice’

“[Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan] does not need my advice. He is perfectly capable of making up his mind himself. You got to judge that each situation is different. But in the end you can only create peace with people who in their hearts are prepared to make peace. And the trouble with terrorism is that it creates a sense of hatred between communities and then it is very difficult. Whereas when the violence stops you are able to say, ‘Let’s sit together and talk this time.’ If you are trying to talk with someone and come to an agreement and you know they are still trying to kill a member of your family, you are not going to talk to them,” Blair added.

In response to a question about if there is a need for a third party for Turkey in terms of dealing with the PKK, Blair said: “This is between the Turkish government and the PKK. What we did was to use outside help, but we chose to use it. I don’t think this is for a situation like Israel and Palestine where outside intervention is not useful