U.K. parliament foreign affairs committee calls for return to Turkey-PKK peace process

Turkey Minister of Foreign Affairs Mevlut Cavusoglu meets UK House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee members

The UK parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee has raised the possibility of a return to peace talks between the Turkish government and Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), it has emerged.

In a visit to Ankara last week, the committee met with Turkish officials including President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Prime Minister Binali Yildirim to discuss the post-coup situation in Turkey.

According to Turkish state news agency AA, British lawmaker and committee chair Crispin Blunt said on Tuesday that by defeating the coup “Turkey had done a profound service to democracy”.

The Conservative Party MP said committee members had also raised the possibility of restarting the peace process with the PKK.

“Of course, this is Turkey’s internal politics. But it could allow Turkey and the international community to focus on eliminating the principle threat to us, which of course is Daesh [Islamic State] and al-Qaeda,” Blunt said.

Popularly called the “solution process”, peace talks between the Turkish government and PKK ended after a two-year ceasefire in the summer of 2015.

The Kurdish party accused President Erdogan of ending the process by refusing to recognise the 10-article Dolmabahce Agreement signed between the parties, whilst the government said the PKK had not kept its promise of withdrawing fighters from Turkey and laying down arms.

In a January 2016 interview on Radio 4, Crispin Blunt had said a return to war by Erdogan was an “appalling mistake”.

“It was undertaken for, it appears, internal political reasons to strengthen Erdogan’s party in the run-up to the November elections after he lost his majority in parliament in June and it was almost a deliberate strategy to undo the ceasefire, to react to PKK provocation – not as a crime but as an opportunity to reopen the war.

“And we’ve now got this dreadful situation which is awful for Turkey – the strategy is not going to work, they’re not going to annihilate Kurdish identity in the region – and of course it’s a fantastic distraction from the war against the ideology which is represented out of so-called Islamic State, which has got to be the international priority”.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May is set to visit Ankara on Saturday to meet Erdogan and Yildirim.