Turkey condemns BBC interview with PKK as "terrorist propoganda"

Turkey condemned Monday the BBC for conducting an interview with the head of the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) Cemil Bayik.

"These types of efforts to exonerate a terrorist organization have nothing to do with journalism," Ibrahim Kalin, a spokesman for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said in Ankara in response to a question from a reporter.

He added that letting the PKK leader present his point of view as "reasonable and legitimate demands" is "nothing other than indirect support to the terrorist propaganda."

The British broadcaster interviewed Bayik in northern Iraq, where the PKK has bases. The Turkish air force carries out regular strikes against the bases.

Bayik, in the interview, accused Erdogan of escalating the war in south-eastern Turkey.

"The Kurds will defend themselves to the end, so long as this is the Turkish approach - of course the PKK will escalate the war," he said, according to the BBC.

He also denied that the PKK was seeking to create an independent Kurdish state.

"We don't want to divide Turkey. We want to live within the borders of Turkey on our own land freely," Bayik was quoted as saying, adding that he believed the Kurdish issue in Turkey "can only be resolved through negotiations."

Erdogan's spokesman reiterated the Turkish government's position that negotiations with the PKK would not be reopened.

A two-year ceasefire collapsed in July, after peace talks stalled, leading to renewed violence, mostly focused on the largely Kurdish south-east. Turkey and the PKK blame each other for the fallout.

Hundreds are dead on both sides and at least 200 civilian have since been killed, according to rights groups. Kurdish officials estimate some 500,000 people have been displaced by the fighting.

Many Kurds in Turkey have long complained of systemic discrimination.

Turkey, the United States and the European Union consider the PKK a terrorist group. However, the West supports the People's Protection Units (YPG), seen as the Syrian wing of the PKK, as it fights against Islamic State. Turkey opposes this arrangement.

In the BBC interview, Bayik talked about "direct" connections with the US-led anti-Islamic State coalition about the efforts to fight Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.

Last update: Mon, 25/04/2016 - 14:12

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