Erdogan tells Kurds to put down arms

March 9, 2013 at 5:48 PM

SIIRT, Turkey, March 9 (UPI) -- Kurdish nationalists must give up their arms and work within the parliamentary system, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Saturday.

Erdogan said the government will not work with the Kurdistan Workers Party, usually known by its Turkish acronym PKK, while it continues a military strategy, the Anatolian News Agency reported.

Speaking in Siirt, a heavily Kurdish province in southeast Turkey, Erdogan reminded his audience his wife is from Siirt and is an Arab.

"I love my Kurdish brother, my Arab brother and my Turkish brother in the same way. I don't discriminate," Erdogan said. "If I did that sort of discrimination, why would I marry an Arab girl from Siirt? This is the best proof of it."

While 70 percent to 75 percent of Turkish nationals are ethnically Turkish, the country has a significant Kurdish minority as well as members of other ethnic groups.

"Twelve years ago, we said no to ethnic nationalism," Erdogan said, referring to the founding of his Justice and Development Party in 2001. "We said no to policies of denial and assimilation. We are also against regional nationalism. The East will have exactly the same as the West, whether with a central government or a local government."

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