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Turkish President Rules Out Return to Peace Process With Kurds

A resident walks on the rubble of a destroyed house in the mostly-Kurdish town of Silopi, Turkey, Jan. 19, 2016. Turkey's president has ruled out any further peace efforts with Kurdish rebels.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan ruled out any return to peace efforts with the PKK Kurdish rebel group, telling village representatives that the organization will be liquidated.

Erdogan said neither the separatist terror organization nor the party under its control nor other Kurd structures will ever be accepted as counterpart. The time for negotiating is over, he said.

Under Erdogan's leadership, a process existed with the PKK that resulted in a two-year cease-fire, which collapsed in July amid mutual recrimination.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Erdogan indicated the current military crackdown across the predominantly Kurdish southeast could extend across Turkey's borders, saying the PKK will be liquidated from the region.

The Kurdish rebel group has bases in neighboring Iraq, and Ankara has accused a Syrian Kurdish militia of links to the PKK.

Erdogan also said the current crackdown would extend to legal Kurdish representatives, adding that parliamentary deputies and mayors would be held to account. The pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party is already facing a number of criminal investigations.

Erdogan, however, did suggest new reforms could be introduced for Turkey's largest minority.

When Turkish security forces have entirely liquidated terrorists in the region, he said, a discussion will be held to find a radical solution to the issue.

Observers say past leaders in the more than three-decade-old conflict have attempted to impose solutions by force on the country's restive minority, all of which have failed. The PKK, which launched its insurgency in 1984, is designated a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.

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