Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has referred to himself as a "guardian of peace" while calling on Kurds to vote “Yes” in an upcoming constitutional reforms referendum.
A shaky ceasefire between the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has been calling for an autonomous Kurdish region since 1984, and the Turkish government collapsed in July 2015. Attacks on Turkish security forces have soared ever since.
Over the past few months, Turkish ground and air forces have been carrying out operations against the PKK positions in the country’s troubled southeastern border region as well as northern Iraq and Syria.
“These supporters of the PKK keep on saying 'peace, peace, peace'. Does empty talk bring peace? Could there be peace with those who walk around with weapons in their hands?" said Erdogan during a rally held in the country’s conflict-torn southeastern Kurdish majority city of Diyarbakir on Saturday.
Erdogan was referring to the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) which he claims supports the PKK. The HDP, the second largest opposition party in Turkey, has been a main critic of changing the country’s constitution. The party has campaigned vastly against the April 16 referendum.
"We are the guardians of peace, we are the guardians of freedoms," he added.
Turkey is set to hold a referendum on the constitutional amendments, including giving executive powers to the president, currently a ceremonial post, and abolishing the office of the prime minister.
"We are ready to talk, to walk together with everyone who has something to say or has a project," Erdogan said. "We have one condition. There will be no guns in their hands."