In his annual foreign policy speech, French President François Hollande said that Turkey needs to do more to combat ISIS terrorists, and urged Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to restart the Turkish-Kurdish peace dialogue by saying,
“All the players need to be part of the solution. I’m thinking of Gulf Arab states and Iran. I’m thinking of Turkey that needs to be involved in the fight against Islamic State and needs to relaunch dialogue with the Kurds.”
For decades, the Turkish government and the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) have been at odds about the Kurdish question in Turkey. The PKK has often used violence against the Turkish government to push its agenda of Kurdish rights and freedom.
In recent years, jailed PKK founder Abdullah Öcalan and Turkish President Recip Tayyip Erdogan struck a fragile Turkish-PKK peace agreement. Although progress had been made between the two sides, the dialogue was shattered last month when Turkey used airstrikes to target PKK units in the mountains on the border of Turkey and Iraq.
Bombing ISIS, not Kurds
Turkey has long claimed the PKK to be terrorists, but the United States has been partnering with PKK-affiliate in Syria, claiming that these Kurds are the most effective fighters in the fight against the self-proclaimed Islamic State.
Earlier this week, Turkey and the United States announced plans to increase cooperation in air operations against the self-declared Islamic State terrorist group. President Obama gave his support for the Kurds, expressing his dissatisfaction with Turkey’s bombing of the PKK.
The increased cooperation between the United States and Turkey would push ISIS fighters away from the Turkish-Syrian border, preventing the free flow of foreign fighters and the illicit transportation of weapons into Syria.
Terrorist Attack in France
President Hollande’s speech comes days after a terrorist attack in France was thwarted by a group of American, British and French off-duty military service members. Authorities in France have indirectly linked the terrorist attack to ISIS, saying that the perpetrator had traveled to Turkey, and possibly Syria to meet ISIS fighters.
President Hollande’s position reinvigorates France’s role in the US-led coalition against the Islamic State, and puts the pressure on Turkey to both fight ISIS, and explore a peaceful resolution to its conflict with the PKK.[Read more via Reuters]