Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday that People’s Democratic Party (HDP) officials serve the interests of the PKK terrorist organisation, referring to their ongoing hunger strike aimed at protesting the state’s anti-terror operations in Turkey's southeastern provinces.
"They can go on a hunger strike, they can do other things as well. But the place where they express themselves should be the parliament. They literally operate like the assistors of the terrorist organisation." Erdogan said.
"The struggle of our security forces is a matter of survival for our country. It is not possible for us to make concessions in this struggle." he also said.
More than 200 security officers have died in PKK terror attacks in Turkey since the group’s umbrella organisation, the KCK, unilaterally ended a two-and-a-half-year-long ceasefire with the government on July 11 and threatened Turkey with attacks.
Turkish security forces have launched extensive internal security operations in certain districts of Sirnak Province, including Cizre and Silopi, to scatter the network of PKK groups.
PKK terrorist attacks have also claimed the lives of a total number of 37 security officials along with several civilians since the beginning of 2016.
Erdogan: Zana should take parliamentary oath first
Replying to questions from reporters on a possible meeting with prominent HDP official Leyla Zana, Erdogan said he would not meet with her unless she took her parliamentary oath.
"Most importantly, she should firstly take her parliamentary oath, otherwise it would not be possible to accept to have a meeting with her." he said.
Erdogan also said a meeting was improbable as Zana demanded to discuss issues related to the imprisoned head of the PKK terrorist organisation.
"If she wishes to talk about such topics, there is no point in coming together," he said.
Erdogan has mostly had a stormy relationship with the HDP leadership since his days as a prime minister of the country and chairman of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party).
However, he has had a positive relationship with Zana, despite her being known for her tough stance against the Turkish government since the 1990s.
Erdogan and Zana previously held a meeting together early in July 2012 when Turkish security forces and the PKK terrorist organisation were engaged in fierce clashes in the southeastern and eastern regions of the country.
Before her first meeting with Erdogan she said, "I believe Prime Minister Erdogan will resolve this issue [the PKKs armed conflict with Turkey]. I have not lost my faith in that," in an interview with a Turkish journalist.
"I would not be here, if I had no faith," she declared.
Following this, the meeting and her comments were criticised at the time by the leadership of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) which is the predecessor of the current HDP.