Saleh Muslim, the leader of the most powerful Syrian Kurdish group, has stated that the group may consider opening an office in Ankara. Speaking in an interview with Sterk TV, Muslim, the head of Syria's Democratic Union Party (PYD) -- an offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), said depending on the relations between the PYD and Turkey, the group may bring the topic of opening an office in Ankara onto the agenda during talks with Turkish officials.
A senior Turkish official, who spoke to Today's Zaman on the condition of anonymity, stated that Turkey had not received a request by the group to open an office in Ankara yet. "We will consider the issue when they make a request," said the official.
“We are still at the bottom of the ladder. The meetings will fall into place. As we are not a state currently, we cannot make a request with the Turkish Foreign Ministry,” said Muslim, adding that the demands of both Turkey and the PYD coincide with each other.
A delegation from the Foreign Ministry wrapped up its talks with Muslim for the second time in İstanbul in mid-August. Muslim paid a two-day official visit to Turkey for the first time in late July when Ankara said it would not take any part in the ongoing fighting between Kurdish groups and radical groups for control of the northern Syrian towns bordering Turkey. Turkish officials also had talks with Muslim in Cairo at least once.
Muslim stated that the PYD never considered Turkey a hostile state and never planned to harm the country. “Turkey very recently began to understand us. We always preferred dialogue and we followed this up with visits to Turkey. Both the PYD and Turkey had suspicions about each other. These were all because of misunderstandings. We support the establishment of friendly ties with Turkey. This needs time. We are having talks with the Turkish Foreign Ministry based on mutual respect,” said Muslim.
Although Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan previously confirmed that officials from Turkey's National Intelligence Organization (MİT) will warn Muslim against making any unilateral moves to establish an autonomous Kurdish political structure in northern Syria, Muslim added that the PYD is not having talks with MİT but solely with officials from the Foreign Ministry. “When Turkey has good relations with us, it will gain the sympathy of all Kurds because the eyes of all Kurds are on Rojava [Syria's north],” said Muslim.
In a move to assuage Ankara's concerns, the PYD had earlier said it poses no threat to Turkey's territorial integrity and called for broader cooperation with Ankara against radical groups fighting in northern Syria.
Turkey has already warned the Kurdish group that it would not allow a de facto autonomous Kurdish administration in Syria which would be carved out by the PYD taking advantage of the opportunity of the situation of conflict in Syria. The PYD, in return, assured Turkey that such an administration would only be an interim one in order to deliver the needs of the people in the region controlled by the PYD. The PYD leader again assured Turkish officials that there is no planned declaration of a fait accompli Kurdish autonomy in the region, the sources confirmed.