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 Turkey approves sanctions on PKK and Iraqi Kurdistan

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Turkey approves sanctions on PKK and Iraqi Kurdistan  1.11.2007







November 1, 2007

ANKARA, -- The Turkish cabinet has approved sanctions targeting Turkey's PKK Kurdish rebels and their associates, the vice prime minister said Wednesday, announcing a move expected to affect members of Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan administration.

Cemil Cicek, who acts as a spokesman for the government, said the cabinet had adoped "simultaneous military, political, diplomatic and economic measures" targeting the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and "its associates."

Cicek defined associates as "those who help it and who shield it."

Ankara accuses the Iraqi Kurdistan administration of harboring the Turkey's Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) rebels in its territory. Kurdish authorities in Kurdistan region strongly reject the claim.

According to earlier press reports, possible sanctions against Iraq could include restricting trade through the Habur border gate and cutting off electricity supplies to Kurdistan region 'northern Iraq'.

Iraq is a lucrative market for Turkey and one of the few countries with which Ankara has a trade surplus.

Turkish exports to Iraq -- including construction materials, food, household appliances and electricity -- totalled 1.7 billion dollars (1.2 billion Euros) in the first eight months of this year and 2.5 billion dollars for 2006,
www.ekurd.net according to official figures.

On Tuesday, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan had warned Massoud Barzani, the president of Kurdistan region 'northern Iraq', that tolerating the PKK could have a cost.

"What they (Barzani and his followers) are doing there is quite simply harbouring a terrorist organisation," Erdogan said during a reception for Turkey's national day.

"If terrorist organisations encroach on Turkish territory we will use all means available to us under international law," he added.

Turkey rejects direct talks with Iraqi Kurdistan government, Officially, Turkey does not recognise the regional government of Kurdistan led by president Massoud Barzani.

Massoud Barzani, president of the Kurdistan regional government that holds sway in northern Iraq, regretted Ankara's refusal to hold direct talks on the crisis over the Turkey's separatist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) rebels.

Turkey has never, and still does not, recognize the Kurdistan region government (KRG) and refuses to meet with its representatives in any official capacity. That reflects Ankara's fear that any international respect shown to the autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan region would only embolden Turkey's own large Kurdish minority to seek similar home-rule status.

Fouad Hussein, the chief of staff for Iraqi Kurdistan president Massoud Barzani, thinks that the Turks are using the PKK as a pretext to attack the Kurds. "The PKK is not the target. The target is Kurdistan regional government," Hussein said.

Since 1984 the PKK [Partiya Karkeren Kurdistan] took up arms for greater rights and autonomy in the mainly Kurdish southeast of Turkey [Turkey-Kurdistan] which has claimed around 45,000 lives of Turkish soldiers and Kurdish PKK guerrillas.

The PKK demanded Turkey's recognition of the Kurds' identity in its constitution and of their language as a native language along with Turkish in the country's Kurdish areas, the party also demanded an end to ethnic discrimination in Turkish laws and constitution against Kurds, ranting them full political freedoms.

A large Turkey's Kurdish community estimate to over 20 million openly sympathise with the Kurdish PKK rebels.

Since 1991, the Kurds of Iraq achieved self-rule in part of the country. Today's teenagers are the first generation to grow up under Kurdish rule. In the new Iraqi Constitution, it is referred to as Kurdistan region. Kurdistan region has all the trappings of an independent state -- its own constitution, its own parliament, its own flag, its own army, its own border, its own border patrol, its own national anthem, its own education system, its own International airports, even its own stamp inked into the passports of visitors.

Copyright, respective author or news agency, AFP | Agencies  

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