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Germany urges Turkey not to 'tear down bridges' with Kurds

AFP , Friday 31 Jul 2015
Germany's Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier (Photo: Reuters)
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German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Friday urged Turkey not to abandon the Kurdish peace process despite an upsurge in tension and violence.

Ankara "should not tear down the bridges with the Kurds which have been painstakingly built -- by both sides -- over the past few years," Steinmeier told Bild daily.

"And it must respect the fact that a Kurdish party has been elected to parliament," he said in an interview to be published Saturday, referring to the Peoples' Democratic Party.

"We support all efforts to settle Turkey's conflict with the Kurds peacefully," said Steinmeier, whose country is a NATO partner of Ankara and home to about three million people of Turkish origin.

Turkey has launched military strikes against Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) militants in Turkey and northern Iraq, as well as against Islamic State jihadists in Iraq and Syria, following attacks it blames on the two groups.

The PKK has waged an insurgency for self rule in Turkey's southeast since 1984 that has claimed tens of thousands of lives. The parties appeared to be inching towards a peace deal after a 2013 ceasefire, but its prospects are now seen as far off as ever.

Steinmeier warned that "no one can have an interest in Turkey falling back into the cycles of violence of earlier times -- neither the government nor the political representatives of the Kurds."

"Of course, Turkey has a responsibility to protect its citizens against terror. But the last thing the already crisis-ridden Middle East needs is a widening of military confrontation in the region."

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