On Monday 13th March, Mike Gapes posed the following question to Minister of State at the FCO and DFID, The Rt Hon Alistair Burt MP:
Mike Gapes: The Foreign Affairs Committee went to Turkey in January 2017 and had meetings with President Erdoğan and his senior Ministers. It was made very clear to us that Turkey intended at some point to relocate hundreds of thousands of the 3 million Syrian Arab refugees who were in Turkey, into the areas on its border in the north and to prevent the Kurds from having a contiguous area under their control. Why did the international community not do more to stop that, and is the Minister really serious when he thinks that there will be a political solution and that Daesh will be defeated when Turkey sees its priority as stopping the Kurds rather than getting a political solution?
Alistair Burt: I am not sure that I know the answer to the hon. Gentleman’s very good question based on his knowledge of the area. As I said a moment ago, the different aspects of this conflict, and the different reasons that some states are taking action, go back many years and are intended to sort out many difficulties and issues brought to light by the conflict against Daesh and the break-up of Syria. It is not possible for the United Kingdom to say to other states what the end lines drawn on the map will be. Countries have concerns about terrorist activity. Turkey has been clear about that in relation to the PKK—a proscribed organisation both there and here—and we respect that in a NATO ally. However, as I have said in relation to what is happening presently in Afrin, we have been clear with our determination that there should be a de-escalation. And yes, we do call for a resumption of the negotiations between Turkey and the PKK—they only ended in 2015—to see whether there is a chance to bring that together. Perhaps the situation is not quite as hopeless as we sometimes feel when we look at the map.