Turkey condemns EU Parliament show on Syrian Kurdish fighters

13 July 2016 – Burssels –  AFP / MESOP  – Turkey has condemned as unacceptable an exhibition at the European Parliament on a Kurdish militia force in Syrian Kurdistan [northern Syria], accusing the EU body of showing propaganda for a “terrorist” group.

The exhibition in Brussels contains images from Syria of the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), a group the West sees as allies in the fight against Islamic State (IS) jihadists in Syria.“It is unacceptable for the European Parliament to engage in propaganda for a terrorist organisation that targets Turkish citizens on a daily basis,” presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said in comments published by the state-run Anadolu news agency late Tuesday.

Ankara accuses the YPG of carrying out attacks inside Turkey and of being the Syrian branch of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is fighting a three-decade-old insurgency against the Turkish state.“We find it difficult to understand what the European Parliament is trying to accomplish by advertising the organic extension of PKK, which the EU itself considers a terrorist organisation,” Kalin said.

The PKK is designated as a terror group by Turkey, the EU and the United States. However the EU and US do not classify the YPG and its political arm the Democratic Union Party (PYD) as terror groups. The exhibition, which opened on Monday and runs until July 15, comprises 30 images from Syrian Kurdistan [the Kurdish-populated region of northern Syria]. It depicts “main characters and historical events” of the region, according to a statement on the website of MEP Josef Weidenholzer of the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats, who is hosting the show.

The Turkish foreign ministry has also denounced the exhibition and accused the European Parliament of “acting as a tool encouraging terrorism”.The United States regards the Kurdish militia as its key ally on the ground in the fight against IS jihadists.But Ankara says the fact the YPG is fighting against IS does not change its status as a terror group.“Both Daesh and the PKK are terror groups,” the ministry said, using an Arabic acronym for the IS group. “Preferring a terror group to another one is a disrespect shown to the memory of all victims of terrorism,” the ministry said, adding: “Double standards are seriously harming the European Union’s image.”