Supporters of the PKK marching in Stockholm last year. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT.
Supporters of the PKK marching in Stockholm last year. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT.

Green politicians want PKK removed from EU terror list

PKK "better than the usual suspects"
2:27 min

Two Green party politicians want Sweden to push the EU to remove the Kurdish PKK group from its terrorist organization list. 

The PKK has been fighting in Syria against the militant jihadist group the Islamic State and that, the politicians say, is a good reason why to reconsider its place on the list.

The Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK as it's better known, has fought a three-decade insurgency in southeast Turkey. The banned group took up arms in 1984 with the aim of creating an independent Kurdish state, and its fight in eastern Turkey and neighboring border regions has left thousands of Turkish soldiers, PKK fighters and civilians dead.

The PKK is now a designated terrorist group according to a number of governments and organisations, including NATO and the EU.

But now, with the fighting in Iraq and Syria, the armed group seems destined to play a larger role in global politics. And that has led to two members of Sweden's Green Party to make the controversial call on Sweden to help lift the group's terror designation.

Per Gahrton, a former member of the EU parliament for the Swedish Greens and one of the party's founders, tells Radio Sweden that the PKK is comprised of Kurds from the region, currently under attack by the jihadist group the Islamic State.

Gahrton argues that supporting the PKK is better than putting up with, what he calls "the usual suspects, like the British or Americans." But since the EU deems it a terrorist group, Sweden's hands are tied when it comes to supporting the PKK.

This isn't the first time Gahrton, along with his fellow editorial writer, Green MP Jabar Amin,
have said Sweden should reach out to the PKK. Last year they said Sweden could become a mediating force in the long-standing Turkish-Kurdish conflict.

Gahrton says the pair aren't calling for arms shipments from Sweden but for economic aid, which could bring about a independent Kurdish state in the future.

"We'd obviously offer financial support and not so much to the war machine so Kurdistan could establish some type of self-government," he says.

But getting the EU to reconsider its classified of the PPK as a terrorist group is an uphill battle to say the least.

Right now, there is an uneasy ceasefire between Turkey and the PKK but Syria's civil war has complicated peace efforts between the two sides. In addition, the 28-member EU would have to uniformly rescind its decision and that would greatly upset Turkey and those who support the Turkish line.

Our journalism is based on credibility and impartiality. Swedish Radio is independent and not affiliated to any political, religious, financial, public or private interests.
Du hittar dina sparade avsnitt i menyn under "Min lista".