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Military: no negotiations with Kurdish rebels

Military: no negotiations with Kurdish rebels

Turkey's military indicated Tuesday that it would back government efforts to grant more rights to Kurds and improve the economy of their region.
The military, however, drew the line at moves that would involve negotiating with Kurdish rebels, harm Turkey's unity or make Kurdish an official language.
Turkey's government is seeking nationwide support for yet to be announced plans to end the country's 25-year-old conflict with the rebels.
Opposition parties have strongly criticized those efforts, accusing the government of making concessions to terrorists and warning that the moves could break up the country along ethnic lines. They also accused the military of being party to those actions after a National Security Council meeting last month recommended that the government pursue its peace efforts.
In a statement posted on its Web site, Gen. Ilker Basbug, the military chief of staff, responded to the criticism saying the army would maintain its drive against the rebels of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK.
In the first direct military statement on the government's plans, Basbug also said the military would refuse to be "involved in any activity that could lead to forging contacts with the terrorist organization or its supporters."
"Turkey, with its state ... and nation is an indivisible whole. Its language is Turkish," it said quoting from the Constitution, indicating that it would not back any moves that would make Kurdish one of the country's official languages.
The government is trying to build public consensus for a deal that would lead to an end to the conflict that has killed tens of thousands of people since 1984. It has sounded out pro-Kurdish politicians, trade unions, journalists and relatives of soldiers killed in the fighting in the past few weeks.
The government has not provided any details of a peace initiative. Lawmakers from Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's ruling party have suggested, however, that the government could rename thousands of Kurdish villages that have Turkish names and expand Kurdish language education.
The question of how to persuade thousands of rebels to give up their weapons remains in deep dispute. PKK demands include amnesty for its top leaders, but such a deal would infuriate many Turks.
Imprisoned Kurdish rebel leader, Abdullah Ocalan, was expected to reveal his own plan for peace through his lawyers soon.
Fighting between troops and the PKK has died down since the 1990s, but the Kurdish conflict remains a drag on Turkey's economy and an obstacle to the country's joining the European Union.
Turkey has taken some steps to assimilate Kurds, who account for about 20 percent of the population. In January, it launched the first 24-hour Kurdish-language television station, and Erdogan spoke a few words in the once-banned tongue.
Rebels initially sought a separate state, but their political platform has evolved to demands for more cultural and democratic rights.


Updated : 2021-05-19 07:03 GMT+08:00