Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called on French President Francois Hollande to explain why he had met one of three Kurdish women with links to the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) who were shot dead in Paris.
Hollande has said he knew one of the killed Kurdish women and was meeting with her regularly, describing the assassination as “horrible.”
The bodies of the women — PKK co-founder Sakine Cansız, Fidan Dogan and Leyla Soylemez — were found at around 1:30 a.m. on Thursday at the Kurdistan Information Center on Rue Lafayette in Paris.
“How can you routinely meet with members of an organization labelled a terrorist group by the European Union and being sought by Interpol? What kind of politics is this?” Erdogan said in a speech to a business group on Saturday.
“The French president should immediately disclose to the public why he met with members of this terrorist organization, what was discussed, to what end he was in communication with these terrorists,” the prime minister said, adding that Turkey would pursue unspecified legal measures on the matter.
Erdogan said the killings may be the result of PKK infighting or an attempt to derail Turkey’s efforts to end the Kurdish conflict, which has implications for Syria, Iran and Iraq with their ethnic Kurdish minorities.
“The killings in Paris may have been an attempt aimed at sabotaging this initiative. It may also be score-settling within the ranks of the separatist terrorist group,” he said.
He rejected allegations by Kurdish groups that elements from the Turkish state were behind the killings and demanded French authorities apprehend those behind the attack and shed light on the incident at once.
French investigators gave no immediate indication as to who might be responsible.
Erdogan pledged to continue efforts to end the conflict.
Since his party came to power in 2002, it has expanded political and cultural rights for Turkey’s estimated 15 million Kurds to create a basis for ending a war that has held back the country’s economic and democratic progress.
But Kurdish politicians and activists also accuse Erdogan of escalating tensions through the arrests and trials of thousands of Kurdish journalists, lawyers and others who have sought a civilian, non-violent resolution of the conflict.
He has also stepped up military attacks on the PKK, including land and air incursions into Iraq to target rebels in their mountain hideouts.
Journal of Turkish Weekly