During the 1980s and ’90s, large parts of Turkey's east and southeast (but not the Black Sea area) were the scene of bitter fighting between the separatists of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and Turkish security forces. The fighting subsided over the next decade, allowing tourism in the region to get off the ground again. In 2012, the PKK declared a ceasefire, and there were several peace negotiations between the separatist organization and the Turkish government. This ended abruptly in July 2015 when the pro-Kurdish HDP (People’s Democratic Party) failed to support the ruling party’s attempts to implement an executive presidential system throughout Turkey. The PKK resumed its attacks on Turkish security personnel, declared self-rule in some cities and towns, and the Turkish state bombed PKK positions in northern Iraq. The situation in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast has been complicated immeasurably by the conflict in Syria, which erupted in 2011. The rise of ISIS may give visitors to the border cities some cause for alarm, especially as the violence threatens to spill over the border in response to Turkish military attacks on both Kurdish and ISIS positions. In 2015, the Consulate General of the United States in Turkey was advising U.S. citizens to avoid areas in close proximity to the Syrian border while the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office was advising against all travel within 10 km (6 miles) of the border, and all but essential travel to the areas of Sirnak, Mardin, Sanliurfa, Gaziantep, Kilis, and Hatay provinces as well as Siirt, Tunceli, and Hakkari provinces. The situation is constantly evolving, so we recommend travelers interested in visiting the area to consult the United States security alerts before planning their trip.
That being said, the majority of visitors to the area do not run into any trouble, and are more likely to encounter friendly faces and warm hospitality. Most of the troubles exist between security forces and militants. The biggest security issues are predominantly in the Kurdish areas, while the northeast of Turkey and the Black Sea coast are considered perfectly safe.