EU calls for immediate ceasefire in southeast Turkey

Published January 25th, 2016 - 05:30 GMT

European Union foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini has called for an "immediate ceasefire" in Turkey’s southeast amid ongoing clashes between the country’s security forces and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Mogherini made the remarks during a joint press conference with Turkey's EU Affairs Minister in the capital, Ankara, on Monday.

"We call for an immediate ceasefire in the southeast and strongly condemn all kinds of terrorism," Mogherini said.

Meanwhile, European Union enlargement commissioner, Johannes Hahn, also called on all warring parties to declare a ceasefire and return to the peace process. 

"We are ready to contribute with regards to the Kurdish peace process. We have an imminent interest on that because it can affect the security in the region, and in the broader sense, the EU," Hahn added.

Reacting to the European appeal, Turkey's EU Affairs Minister Volkan Bozkir vowed no let-up in the government's ongoing military campaign against the PKK militants. 

"As a sovereign state, Turkey will continue its struggle against all terrorist organisations, including the PKK, which are threatening its national security," Bozkir said, adding, "In doing so, we try to protect the rights of our citizens."

Turkey’s southeast has been volatile since a shaky ceasefire between Ankara and the PKK that had stood since 2013 collapsed following the Turkish military operation against the militant group.

Ankara has been engaged in a large-scale campaign against the PKK in its southern border region in the past few months. The Turkish military has also been conducting offensives against the positions of the group in northern Iraq.

The operations began in the wake of a deadly July bombing in the southern Turkish town of Suruc. More than 30 people died in the attack, which the Turkish government blamed on Daesh.

After the bombing, the PKK militants, who accused the government in Ankara of supporting Daesh, engaged in a series of attacks against Turkish police and security forces.

Since mid-December 2015, curfews have been imposed in the towns of Silopi and Cizre in Sirnak Province as part of the army operations against PKK militants, prompting angry reactions from the residents of the Kurdish-majority areas.

Authorities, however, claim the curfews are aimed at protecting civilians amid near-daily clashes.

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