Russia’s Lavrov says Kurdish issue is much broader than Syria crisis

The Kurdish issue should not escalate tensions in the Middle East and should not be seen as a problem that is limited to Syria, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in an interview with Rossiya-24 TV channel on Friday.

Turkey and Russia have currently been working for the establishment of a safe zone in northern Syria to ease Ankara’s security concerns over Kurdish-held territories along the Turkish border.

Turkey sees the Syrian Kurdish armed groups as extensions of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) which has been fighting for self-rule in Turkey’s southeast for more than three decades. 

"The Kurds are living in Iraq and in Iran, and certainly, a huge number of the Kurds are living in Turkey. Nobody wants this region to ‘explode’ over tensions around the Kurdish issue, and no one wants the Kurds to feel like they are secondary citizens," Russian state news agency TASS quoted Lavrov as saying.

"This is a much broader issue than just in the dimension of the Syrian crisis,” he said. 

Russia’s top diplomat also said that Moscow had created conditions that would allow to "agree on the Kurds’ fate in Syria calmly rather than in pauses between combat actions.”

A deal agreed by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin last week ended Turkey’s military offensive in northern Syria that was launched on Oct. 9.

According to the deal, the Kurdish People Protection Units (YPG) has been withdrawing 30 km south from territories along the Turkish border. 

Russia also brokered a deal between the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and the Syrian government in Damascus, while the Turkish offensive was continuing. The deal allowed the Bashar Assad government to take over the control of some territories in northern Syria from Kurdish militia to end Turkey’s military operation.