Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) cannot be treated as a “normal” entity at the expense of Ankara’s counter-terror efforts, wrote pro-government Daily Sabah columnist Burhanettin Duran on Friday.

The pro-Kurdish HDP cannot be allowed to break its isolation until it agrees to distance itself from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), according to Duran, who maintains Turkey’s ongoing struggle against ethno-terrorism will suffer major setbacks unless the country’s politicians and the general public mitigate their “democratizing pressure” on the pro-Kurdish party.

The Turkish government on Monday sacked of three HDP mayors in the country’s Kurdish-majority southeast accused of having links to the PKK, in a move that set off protests in the country and received international reactions from the likes of the EU.

“Dismissals and detentions of local politicians and appointment of trustees deprive voters of political representation at a local level, and seriously risk damaging local democracy,” the Spokesperson for EU Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Maja Kocijančič said.

The mayors of Diyarbakir, Mardin, and Van province were dismissed only months after stepping into office following the March 31 local elections.

The Kurdish community’s integration into democratic politics is key to Turkey’s ongoing fight against the PKK, Duran wrote, however,  the HDP leadership must be encouraged to take a stand against the organization.

The PKK is an armed group that has been at war in Turkey for over three decades. Ankara accuses HDP lawmakers of harboring sympathies and acting in the interest of the PKK and has pursued a crackdown on the party since the failure of the peace process in July 2015, when relations between the two sides came under pressure due to the Syrian conflict and domestic politics.

“Any attempt to engage in dialogue with the PKK before its ability to engage in acts of terrorism would reward it with a political base. The idea that the PKK, enjoying as much international support as it currently does, would even think about disarming is nothing more than a liberal fantasy,’’ Duran said, responding to claims that criminalizing the HDP is playing into the hands of PKK leaders.

The HDP’s leadership must be encouraged to take a stand against the PKK just as Sinn Fein distanced itself from the IR, Duran said, pointing out that the IRA and ETA disarmed when Ireland and France, respectively, cut them off.

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