British MPs say Turkey must recommence peace process with PKK

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip greeted UK foreign secretary Boris Johnson on Saturday (Photo: Anadolu Agency)

A foreign affairs select committee composed of lawmakers from the UK parliament published a report on Saturday accusing Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of clamping down on opposition and political opponents by using the July 2016 coup attempt as a pretext.

The report also questioned the credibility of the upcoming referendum in the context of a “fundamental intolerance of alternative narratives in Turkey“ and the labelling of opposition as “Gulenists” or “terrorists” as way to curb and silence critical voices en masse.

The report was published on the same day as UK foreign secretary Boris Johnson travelled to Turkey with the foreign office (FCO) minister Sir Alan Duncan for an enhancement of trade and strategic ties between the countries.

The criticism of human right violations and worsening of freedom of expression and assembly was accompanied by a number of recommendations to the FCO.

The report also highlighted the problematic of UK support for the SDF [Syrian Democratic Forces] due to its main component, the People’s Protection Units (YPG) being viewed as a “terrorist organisation” by Turkey.

The report called on the FCO to explain to Turkey “whether it agrees with Turkey’s assertion that the YPG are linked with the PKK [Kurdistan Workers’ Party] to such an extent that they should share the latter’s designation as terrorists. This is of immediate importance, given that the YPG are the predominant Kurdish group in northern Syria, have significantly expanded their territory there, and are the main component of the SDF coalition which both the UK and US support against ISIL [IS].”

The conflict between the YPG and Turkey, the report stated, “is not in the interest of the UK or the wider international community, and the FCO must explain how it is going to work to end the fighting between two forces that have been the primary armies fighting ISIL on the ground in Syria.”

As a recommendation to the FCO, the report stated that Turkey must be persuaded to recommence the peace process with the PKK. “This should include support for Turkish recognition and enablement of Kurdish cultural identity, and discussion of sustainable local autonomy as the basis for the wider reconciliation of Turkish, Kurdish, and international interests.”

Other matters the report suggested the FCO explain to Ankara included whether the UK supports the creation of a safe-zone by Turkish forces and their allies in northern Syria” and “whether the UK supports the settlement of Syrian refugees within territory controlled by Turkish-backed Syrian opposition groups in Syria.”