UK's May uses phrase 'Kurdish terrorism' during Erdogan visit as Kurds protest in London

Erdogan meanwhile said journalists jailed in Turkey were "terrorists and ATM vandals."
author_image Ari Khalidi

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Prime Minister Theresa May of the United Kingdom said Tuesday that her country was a “true friend” of Turkey’s and used the phrase “Kurdish terrorism,” in reference to the Kurds’ decades-long armed campaign against Ankara to secure linguistic, political rights and self-rule.

“It is important that in defense of democracy, which has been facing extraordinary pressures from the failed coup, instability across the border from Syria and from Kurdish terrorism, Turkey does not lose sight of the values it is seeking to defend,” May told reporters.

She was holding a televised press conference with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in which both leaders mentioned their joint efforts to counter the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a group Ankara and its Western allies designate as “terrorist.”

Queen Elizabeth II had earlier welcomed Erdogan at Buckingham Palace.

May’s choice of words was in contrast with both Turkey and its allies’ refrainment from calling PKK’s militant acts “Kurdish terrorism,” in part to deny it more support from the people in whose name it fights.

“Today, I have underlined to President Erdogan that we want to see democratic values and international human rights obligations upheld,” she added.

People protest in central London, against Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan's visit to the UK, outside Downing Street ahead of his scheduled meeting with Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May, May 15, 2018. (Photo: AP)
People protest in central London, against Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan's visit to the UK, outside Downing Street ahead of his scheduled meeting with Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May, May 15, 2018. (Photo: AP)

Erdogan said he had requested from the UK to extradite whom he called “terrorists.”

“Whether FETO or PKK, I have delivered a list of terrorists to Madam Prime Minister. We have demanded the extradition of those terrorists associated with PKK and FETO,” he said, also mentioning followers of a Turkish Islamic movement opposed to his rule.

For the second time during his three-day trip to London, Erdogan also labeled over 160 journalists jailed in Turkey as “terrorists and ATM vandals.”

“Just because they are journalists, just because they have a press card, doesn’t mean everything is allowed,” he said. “A terrorist cannot be a journalist.”

May said her government was taking action “where we have evidence of terrorist activity, of criminal activity.”

“I think you can see that in the action that has been taken against PKK here in the UK,” she continued.

By making the trip, the Turkish leader stated he hoped to bolster the two countries’ annual 17 billion dollar-large trade ties, including in the defense industry and development of fighter jets.

In an earlier interview with the BBC, Erdogan said Brexit presented “huge opportunities” for their commercial ties.

Outside London’s Downing Street, hundreds of pro-Kurdish protestors were demonstrating against Erdogan’s visit to the UK.

They were chanting slogans and holding posters that described Erdogan as a “terrorist” for his government’s actions at home and in Syrian Kurdistan.

Editing by Karzan Sulaivany