Turkey lashes out at EU parliament envoy over Kurdish conflict
ANKARA - A senior Turkish minister lashed out Monday at a European Parliament envoy after she accused security forces of rights violations in the violence-ravaged Kurdish-majority southeast.
Kati Piri, the European Parliament's Rapporteur for Turkey, has "lost her neutrality about Turkey's issues," the country's EU Affairs Minister Volkan Bozkir said in a statement.
He accused the Dutch MEP of being "so far away from understanding Turkey" and "acting in such a biased manner."
On her Facebook page, Piri shared her impressions from a visit Friday to Diyarbakir city where tensions are running high between Turkish security forces and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).
Violence has flared since the collapse in July of a fragile two-and-a-half-year truce aimed at bringing a halt to decades of a Kurdish insurgency.
"The actions of the security forces are often hard and ruthless. It makes life in these areas impossible," Piri wrote.
"On a large scale, there are serious human rights violations taking place and the desperation of many people is getting bigger."
She appealed for a halt to hostilities, warning against what she termed a "bloody civil war in Turkey".
Bozkir protested that the PKK -- which is blacklisted as a terrorist group by Ankara and the European Union -- is not described "in any part of this text as a terrorist organisation".
The Turkish army is still waging an anti-PKK operation in the Sur district of Diyarbakir, raising concerns over the damage inflicted on its historic buildings during the bitter clashes. A curfew has been in place there since December 2.
The surging violence in the southeast has killed off hopes of finding a settlement to a conflict that has claimed tens of thousands of lives since 1984.
The PKK has killed dozens of members of the Turkish security forces in bomb and gunfire attacks since the truce broke down, while Kurdish activists claim the military campaign has cost dozens of civilian lives.
The controversy over the anti-PKK operations has added a new complication to Turkey's EU membership bid which has long been held up by human rights concerns.
Bozkir criticised Piri for skipping a visit to Ankara -- the site of a bombing last week claimed by Kurdish militants that killed 28 people -- and instead spending a whole day "with supporters of the PKK."
He said it was "disrespectful to Turkey's grief as well as to the lives we lost".