President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday vowed to press on with efforts to make peace with Turkey’s Kurds despite deadly pro-Kurdish protests, saying he would work for an agreement until “my last breath”.
Protests by pro-Kurdish demonstrators angry at the government’s policy on Syria have left 31 dead in Turkey and raised fears that the fragile peace process with Kurdish rebels could be derailed.
“I have risked my own neck in the peace process,” Erdogan said in a speech in the Black Sea city of Trabzon.
“I have put my mind and heart to it. And I will keep fighting for it until my last breath. Because I know that this nation is standing behind us,” he added in the televised speech.
He said the standoff between Kurdish fighters and Islamist extremists in the Syrian town of Kobane was being used as a pretext by those who wanted to damage the peace process back in Turkey.
“But Turkey is not a country which will shape its domestic and foreign policy based on the violent actions of thugs and terrorist,” he said.
“Turkey is not a country which will change its course fearing street protests,” he said.
The outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) has battled the Turkish military in an insurgency seeking self rule that has left some 40,000 people dead since 1984.
But it has largely observed a ceasefire since March 2013 and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has kept up contacts with Kurdish politicians even amid the protests. SAPA