Turkey condemns EU for inviting wanted Kurdish politicians to conference

(Updates with Bahçeli comments in para. 6-8)

Turkish Presidency spokesman İbrahim Kalın accused the European Parliament on Thursday of supporting terrorism by inviting representatives of Kurdish political groups banned in Turkey to a conference, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s spokesman referred to the 16th International Conference on the European Union, Turkey, the Middle East and the Kurds, a two-day meeting that started on Wednesday.

Kalın said European lawmakers had invited representatives of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) and Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and had thereby committed a crime by having “terrorists with the blood of thousands on their hands” speak at the parliament.

Turkey sees the Syrian-Kurdish YPG as a terrorist group since it has links to the PKK, which has fought inside Turkey for Kurdish self-rule since 1984. The Turkish government blames the PKK for all of the 40,000 people killed in the conflict, and the United States and European Union, as well as Turkey, list it as a terrorist organisation.

“By opening its doors to the PKK, which the European Union recognises as a terrorist organisation, the European Parliament is openly supporting terrorism and committing a crime,” Kalın said. “The participation of terror organisation leaders who have been issued with red notices encourages and legitimises terrorism in the heart of Europe.”

Devlet Bahçeli, the leader of the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) that is the junior wing of the coalition ruling Turkey, said inviting representatives of outlawed Kurdish political groups to a conference was vileness, according to Anadolu news agency.

He said the European Parliament approved, supported and shut its eyes on terrorist propaganda.

"Terrorism is nested in Europe," he said on Twitter.

Turkey has listed Interpol red notices for Adem Uzun, Remzi Kartal and Zübeyir Aydar, three Kurdish politicians from groups with ideological and organisational ties to the PKK who have been invited to the conference.

On Wednesday Turkey’s Foreign Ministry published a statement condemning the EU for “turning the conference into PKK propaganda.”