Erdogan says time for peace talks with PKK over
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday said that the time for peace talks with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) was over and vowed to stamp out the group once and for all.
The PKK launched an insurgency against the Turkish state in 1984, initially fighting for Kurdish independence, although now more for greater autonomy and rights for the country's largest ethnic minority.
The conflict, which has left tens of thousands of people dead, looked like it could be nearing a resolution until an uneasy truce was shattered last July.
The PKK, designated as a terrorist organisation by Turkey and its Western allies, has killed hundreds of members of the Turkish security forces in bomb and gun attacks since the fighting resumed.
"We said 'resolution process', and they deceived us, their word cannot be trusted. That's over now, we are going to finish this off," Erdogan said during a televised address on Monday.
"The terrorists can choose two paths: surrender to justice or be neutralised, one by one. There is no third way left in Turkey. We tried that repeatedly in the past."
Turkish authorities have launched a massive military operation against PKK rebels in Kurdish dominated southeast Turkey, however rights groups have described the operation as verging on "collective punishment" against Kurdish residents.
Erdogan also lashed out at the West for giving Turkey "lessons in democracy", rejecting mounting US and EU criticism over the state of press freedoms under his rule.
"Those who attempt to give us lessons in democracy and human rights must first contemplate their own shame," the president said.
Turkey's government has been accused of increasing authoritarianism and muzzling media critical of its campaign against the PKK, as well as lawmakers, academics, lawyers and NGOs.
Two journalists from the leading opposition daily Cumhuriyet face life in prison after being charged with revealing state secrets over a story accusing the government of seeking to illicitly deliver arms to rebels in Syria.
The reporters had spent three months in detention until the country's Constitutional Court in February decided to release them.
However, Erdogan on Monday said the Constitutional Court had "betrayed its very existence" with the ruling.