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 Iraq President says PKK must accept peace

 Source : Reuters | RFE/RL | Agencies  
  Kurd Net does not take credit for and is not responsible for the content of news information on this page

 


Iraq President says PKK must accept peace  26.8.2009  





August 26, 2009

BAGHDAD, Iraq, Iraq's ethnic Kurdish president called on Turkey's Kurdish separatist rebels to accept peace with Turkey and lay down their arms, saying the Kurdish people faced a historic opportunity to be accepted into Turkish society.

President Jalal Talabani told Reuters he perceived a "new climate" in Turkey toward the rights of its Kurdish minority and that he supported its leaders in their efforts to end the 25-year conflict with the Turkey's Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), whose guerrilla fighters have bases in Kurdistan region in Iraq's northern mountains.
                 

Iraqi President : Jalal Talabani, a Kurd

"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 August 25.

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 said.

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 of discrimination.

Accepting Overtures

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 soldiers.

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."

Copyright, respective 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 Turkey.

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" 

Southeastern Turkey: North Kurdistan ( Kurdistan-Turkey) wikipedia     

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