Kurdish leader Zubayir Aydar calls on Turkey to return to the negotiation table

Zubayir Aydar, the vice president of the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) based in Brussels, emphasized that the end of the settlement process with the Turkish government is far from over, urging that both sides return to the table to end the recently heightened violence.

Aydar’s interview with the Voice of America network came ahead of his scheduled meeting on Wednesday in Brussels with Co-Chair of Turkey’s Pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party Selahattin Demirtaş. The party entered Turkish parliament following the June 7th general elections.

Demirtaş flew to Brussels on August 5th, and is expected to meet representatives of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and its political wing, the KCK, as fighting between the PKK and the security forces has increased since a suicide bomb blast killed over 30 activists in southeast Turkey.

The violence has been viewed as a major setback in the already shaky ‘settlement process’ between the government and Kurdish people launched in 2012. Aydar expressed that the greatest blow to the process came much earlier when President Tayyip Erdoğan “knocked over the negotiation table” in the period leading up to the June 7th Turkish general elections when he stated, “a table, an agreement, a Kurdish problem, an observatory board does not exist.”

Many viewed Erdoğan’s change of stance as a ‘populist effort’ to sway nationalist votes and undermine the HDP. The HDP’s success in the June elections spelled the end of the Justice and Development Party’s (AK Party) single party rule over the country, and severely dented Erdoğan’s ambitions to implement a constitutional change for a new supreme powered presidency.

In his interview, the KCK Administrative Council member also echoed the wide held sentiment that President Erdoğan was exploiting the upsurge in violence to stir the country into snap elections in hopes that the AK Party will win back majority rule.

Aydar emphasized that the Kurdish side is willing to continue negotiations from where they left off, and added that Washington and the rest of the West should promote such efforts. “We are not seeking war or violence. We desire that both sides return to the negotiation table. The international community should intervene and communicate to both the sides. The international community says ‘Turkey should defend itself’ and then tells us that ‘the peace bid should continue.’ Such statements are by no means constructive.” He added that Washington should “gather Turkey and Kurds around a table and make a strong stance for peace.”

On a separate note, the KCK Administrative Council member also expressed that Turkish attacks against the PKK, “only benefited the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL),” emphasizing that the Kurdish fighters were the most substantive force combating ISIL.