Erdogan Must Choose Peace After Taming Army, Kurdish Party Says

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has no more excuses for failing to engage in talks to end fighting in the largely Kurdish southeast, after he asserted control over the army, a top Kurdish politician said.

Erdogan’s government has cited the military as the main obstacle in its efforts to end the three-decade conflict, Filiz Kocali, co-leader of the Peace and Democracy Party, said in a statement today. The resignation of four top generals last week, leaving Erdogan in a position to control military promotions, has ended the era of “anti-democratic autonomy” and military tutelage over politics, Kocali said.

Erdogan faces a choice between following a policy of “war and deadlock” or holding talks with representatives of the Kurds, led by the jailed leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party or PKK, Abdullah Ocalan, she said.

About 40,000 people have died in the PKK’s war for Kurdish autonomy. The group is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union. Clashes between its fighters and the Turkish army last month left 13 soldiers dead.

Dozens of Turkish generals are being held in jail in connection with an alleged coup plot. Chief of General Staff Isik Kosaner, who has retired along the heads of the air, sea and land forces, said the trial cast the army as a “criminal gang.”

Erdogan, who has pledged to rewrite the constitution adopted after a 1980 coup, today began a four-day meeting with army chiefs in Ankara to decide promotions for the highest posts.

“No government can pursue a policy of deadlock and war with regards to the Kurdish issue in a country where democratic rights and freedoms will prevail and a civilian constitution will be adopted,” Kocali said.

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