"The Kurds are trying to
convince the PKK to accept the peace proposals of
the Turkish government,www.ekurd.net
then to lay down their
arms and go back home, to participate in political
activities in Turkey," he said in an interview on
He said Turkey's increasing openness to Kurdish
identity was in the interests of peace in the Middle
East, Turkish unity, and the Kurdish people, who
live in Iraq, Iran, Syria, and Turkey.
"This is a big step forward in Turkey. The Kurds
must support it, must welcome it and must do their
best to see these policies succeed in the end," he
Iraq's Kurdish population has enjoyed de-facto
independence in its northern enclave since the first
Gulf War in 1991, and consolidated its position
under Western protection after the fall of Saddam
Hussein in the 2003 U.S.-led liberation.
By contrast, Turkey's estimated 20 million Kurds out
of a population of 72 million have long complained
Under President Abdullah Gul and Prime Minister
Tayyip Erdogan, partly as a result of European Union
pressure, Turkey has begun restoring some political
and cultural rights to its Kurdish minority.
Over 44,000 Turkish soldiers and Kurdish PKK
guerrillas have been killed since 1984 when the
Turkey's Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) took up arms
for self-rule in the mainly Kurdish southeast of
Turkey (Turkey-Kurdistan). A large Turkey's Kurdish
community openly sympathise with the Kurdish PKK
rebels. Turkey refuses to recognize its Kurdish
population as a distinct minority.
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,www.ekurd.net
the party also demanded an end to ethnic
discrimination in Turkish laws and constitution
against Kurds, ranting them full political freedoms.
The PKK is considered a 'terrorist' organization by
Ankara, U.S., the PKK continues to be on the
blacklist list in EU despite court ruling which
overturned a decision
to place the Kurdish rebel group PKK and its
political wing on the European Union's terror list.
Turkey refuses to recognize its Kurdish population
as a distinct minority. It has allowed some cultural
rights such as limited broadcasts in the Kurdish
language and private Kurdish language courses with
the prodding of the European Union, but Kurdish politicians
say the measures fall short of their expectations.
Turkey long accused the Kurdistan Regional
Government (KRG) in northern Iraq of not doing
enough to prevent PKK fighters from launching
attacks from KRG territory.
The tone has changed since the KRG, Iraq, Turkey,
and U.S. officials signed a recent agreement to
combat the PKK. Heavy Turkish investment in Iraqi
Kurdistan has also boosted ties.
If Iraqi Kurds were to remove their tacit support
for the PKK, the rebels would have a much more
difficult time launching attacks against Turkish
Gul in March paid the first visit by a Turkish head
of state to Iraq in more than three decades and also
met KRG regional prime minister Nechirvan Barzani,
the first time a Turkish leader has met formally
with a KRG official. It was a sign of Turkey's
growing acceptance of the KRG's autonomy.
Talabani, a former guerrilla fighter who battled
Hussein's army, said he believed the PKK was coming
around to the idea of accepting the overtures from
the Turkish government.
"I think the PKK will agree to this democratic
solution and this problem will be solved without the
need of using arms or forces," he said, offering no
direct evidence for his view. "The PKK can go back
home, they can participate in political activities,
they can play their role as good civilians."
author or news agency,
Reuters | RFE/RL | Agencies
Kurds are not recognized as an official minority in
Turkey and are denied rights granted to other
minority groups. Under EU pressure, Turkey recently
granted Kurds limited rights for broadcasts and
education in the Kurdish language, but critics say
the measures do not go far enough.
The use of the term "Kurdistan" is vigorously
rejected due to its alleged political implications
by the Republic of Turkey, which does not recognize
the existence of a "Turkish Kurdistan" Southeast
Others estimate over 40 million Kurds live in Big
Kurdistan (Iraq, Turkey, Syria, Iran, Armenia),
which covers an area as big as France, about half of
all Kurds which estimate to 25 million live in
Turkey. A large
Turkey's Kurdish community openly sympathise with
the Kurdish PKK for a Kurdish homeland in the
country's mainly Kurdish southeast of Turkey.
Before August 2002, the Turkish government placed
severe restrictions on the use of Kurdish language,
prohibiting the language in education and broadcast
media. The Kurdish alphabet is still not recognized
in Turkey, and use of the Kurdish letters X, W, Q
which do not exist in the Turkish alphabet has led
to judicial persecution in 2000 and 2003
The Kurdish flag flown officially in Iraqi Kurdistan
but unofficially flown by Kurds in Armenia. The flag
is banned in Iran, Syria, and Turkey where flying it
is a criminal offence"
North Kurdistan (