Claudia Roth: ‘Germany must help the peace process to continue in Turkey.’
BERLIN, Germany – NATO must force Turkey to stop its undeclared support of the Islamic State (ISIS) and shift its policy toward the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), the deputy speaker of the German parliament said.
Claudia Roth said in an interview with Rudaw that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government is pursuing a “murky” policy in Syria because it wants the Kurds weakened and their fighters “annihilated.”
“What we have learned is that Mr Erdogan wouldn’t mind if Kurds were weakened and then annihilated,” said Roth, deputy speaker of the Bundestag and a Green Party MP.
Erdogan’s “dealings with the ISIS are unacceptable. I could not believe that Turkey harbors an ISIS militant camp in Istanbul,” Roth said. “Turkey has also allowed weapons to be transported into Syria through its borders. Also that the ISIS has been able to sell its oil via Turkey is extraordinary,” she added.
Turkey categorically denies any dealings with ISIS. But there are many reported accounts of foreign jihadi fighters crossing from Turkey to Syria, wounded militants treated in Turkish hospitals and Ankara turning a blind eye to ISIS selling smuggled oil.
Turkey has invited criticism for its Syria policy. Ankara has remained idle while in Kobane Kurdish fighters of the PKK-affiliated People’s Protection Units (YPG) are making a last stand to keep ISIS from overrunning the Syrian town just across the border.
“I really don’t understand either why would Mr Erdogan and his ministers regard the PKK the same way they view the Islamic State,” Roth said. “Yes, it’s true the PKK does not have a democratic foundation, but it is no ISIS and one should not regard it as such,” she added.
“Germany must put pressure on Turkey to change course and reevaluate its policies. It should also ask NATO members to do the same. Germany must help the peace process to continue in Turkey.”
Regarding German help for Syrian Kurds, she said “Germany could have done so much more than just sending humanitarian help.”
She added that the world should also have helped the Kurdistan Region in northern Iraq, where the autonomous government has taken in some 1.6 million refugees from Syria and other parts of Iraq.
“Why has the international community not helped Kurdistan and the refugees the way it should have?” Roth questioned. She said she had seen refugees first hand in Kurdistan and the Turkish Syrian border of Suruc.
“It was devastating to see how an entire population is being eradicated before our eyes in Kobane,” she said.
“There is a refugee crisis even there where people have been sheltered in temporary places and on the streets. I want to underline that the international community must act very fast and aid the refugees. I have also asked the German government to increase its humanitarian help,” she added.
She said that the peace process between the PKK and the Turkish government, which has largely lagged since it was initiated in March 2012, would succeed only if Ankara changed its treatment of the outlawed PKK.
If Turkey continues to regard the PKK as a terrorist organization like ISIS it “will destroy this process and boost extremism among Kurds,” she warned. “In actual fact Kurds are victims of the rotten Turkish policies. No country should accept this.”
Abdullah Ocalan, the jailed leader of the PKK, said recently that the fall of Kobane could kill the Kurdish peace process in Turkey.
Roth blamed regional powers and selfish interests for Kurdish suffering. “Unfortunately some regional powers think only about their interests without thinking about the suffering of the Kurds,” she said. “There is no coordinated action or will against the ISIS in the region, for instance between Iran and Saudi Arabia. I hope the UN will put pressure on them to take a clearer stand.”
She made a call for ISIS to be “annihilated” and targeted economically as well as militarily.
“Lightly arming Kurds won’t solve the problem. There should be extensive and radical efforts,” she said, fearing that Kobane would fall to ISIS but calling on Kurds not to despair.
“They should know that they have many friends who support them in their battle against the Islamic State.”