Turkey Threatens to Boycott Syria Peace Talks

cavusoglu_turkiyenin_cozum_formulunu_anlatti_1413019371_1208Turkey on Tuesday threatened to boycott UN-backed peace talks on Syria scheduled for later this week if the main Syrian Kurdish party was invited.

Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoğlu said that “of course we will boycott” the Geneva talks if the Syrian Kurdish group Democratic Union Party (PYD), which Ankara believes is linked to militants fighting inside Turkey, was at the negotiating table.

Turkey’s objection, which comes after Moscow said the inclusion of the PYD was essential to the talks’ success, threatens to be a major blow to the process seeking to find a solution to the almost five-year civil war.

“In which capacity would the PYD sit at the table?” Cavusoğlu said in a live interview on the private NTV television, saying it was a “terror group” like Islamic State or the Al-Nusra Front.

“There cannot be PYD elements in the negotiating team. There cannot be terrorist organisations. Turkey has a clear stance.”

The United Nations on Tuesday sent out invitations for the talks in Geneva on Friday but did not specify which groups were called in.

It was not clear if the PYD, Syria’s most powerful Kurdish party led by Salih Muslim, had yet received an invitation.

Turkey, like other major powers, was to be an observer at the talks which will be directly between the Syrian opposition, the regime and other protagonists in the conflict under a UN umbrella.Cavusoglu, who was in Strasbourg on Tuesday, spoke on the phone with his US and British counterparts, John Kerry and Philip Hammond to discuss “invitations” for the meeting, diplomatic sources said.

Turkey considers the PYD and its military wing the People’s Protection Units (YPG) to be offshoots of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) which wages an armed insurgency against Ankara.