Erdogan 'ready' to talk with anyone not holding weapons

“Diyarbakir is our heart. Diyarbakir is Turkey’s seal. Our future is shared as our past.”

DIYARBAKIR, Turkey (Kurdistan24) – Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday said his country was willing to sit down with “anyone” not holding weapons.

The Turkish President’s statement was an appeal to Kurdish constituencies to vote “yes” in the upcoming April 16 referendum whether to give his office unprecedented powers.

“We are ready to meet with anyone, but we have only one condition; nobody will carry weapons in their hands,” declared Erdogan in an apparent message to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

The Turkish President talked to thousands of his supporters during a campaign rally in the major Kurdish city of Diyarbakir where the opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) holds sway.

HDP candidates got nine out of 11 parliamentary seats for Diyarbakir in November 2015, whereas the Erdogan-controlled ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) managed to receive the remaining two lawmaker positions.

“Diyarbakir is our heart. Diyarbakir is Turkey’s seal. Our future is shared as our past,” said Erdogan in his televised speech.

One of the two leading forces behind a “no” campaign to extend Erdogan’s powers was the HDP.

“Diyarbakir stood with Ankara when we founded our republic,” added Erdogan.

A February survey by the Diyarbakir-based SAMER Center for Political and Societal Researches revealed only 25 percent of Kurds interviewed in 16 provinces approved the constitutional changes which would empower Erdogan.

President Erdogan’s avowal to negotiate with “anyone” comes at a time when authorities continue to keep HDP’s Co-chairs Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag as well as 10 other pro-Kurdish lawmakers in prisons.

Still, Erdogan was the first Turkish leader ever in 40 years to hold negotiations with the armed PKK’s leadership which led to a 2013 declaration of a ceasefire that collapsed two years later.

An ensuing renewal of the conflict in a dozen urban areas resulted in the killing of 2,000 people, an unspecified number of hundreds of civilians, according to a February UN report.


Editing by Karzan Sulaivany