July 15, 2015 / 12:32 PM / 4 years ago

Turkish PM talks peace, not coalition, with Kurdish party

ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkey’s prime minister called on Wednesday for new efforts to advance a Kurdish peace process, but his talks with an opposition party that helped foster the fragile peace confirmed there was little prospect they could form a coalition.

Turkey's Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu speaks during a news conference at his ruling AK Party (AKP) headquarters in Ankara, Turkey, July 14, 2015. REUTERS/Umit Bektas

Ahmet Davutoglu, who is trying to find a junior partner to join his AK Party in government, held two hours of talks with Selahattin Demirtas, co-leader of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP). It was the prime minister’s third day of negotiations with opposition parties.

The HDP, which had already all but ruled out a coalition with the AKP, has played a key role in peace talks between the state and jailed Kurdish militant leader Abdullah Ocalan which aim to end a three-decade old insurgency.

The talks — launched in 2012 to heal a conflict which has killed more than 40,000 people — stalled ahead of the June 7 election, at which the AKP lost its majority while the HDP entered parliament as a party for the first time.

Kurdish politicians have accused President Tayyip Erdogan of backtracking on agreements already made.

“We said that pledges made in the peace process need to be fulfilled as soon as possible,” Davutoglu told reporters after his meeting with Demirtas, whose party attracted support from more than 10 percent of Turkish voters.

Davutoglu said the talks had been friendly, but that a framework for a potential coalition partnership — like the one reached this week with the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) — had not been established with the HDP.

“Talks will continue but there is not a mechanism like we have set up with the CHP,” he said.

Since the AKP first came to power in 2002 it has pushed through reforms boosting the rights of Kurds, who make up some 20 percent of the population. But the peace process is fragile.

Ocalan’s Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militant group said last weekend its fighters would attack dam construction sites in the mainly Kurdish southeast. In March, Ocalan urged the PKK to hold a congress on laying down its weapons but stopped short of declaring an immediate end to armed struggle.

HDP deputy Sirri Sureyya Onder told reporters his party had made clear to Davutoglu that it was ready to contribute to any AKP-CHP coalition if it was in line with the HDP’s principles.

Onder also said Ocalan’s isolation on the prison island of Imrali south of Istanbul was unacceptable. Ocalan’s release has been a long-standing Kurdish demand.

Writing by Daren Butler; Editing by Nick Tattersall and Catherine Evans

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