Turkey said yesterday that it was waiting for a positive response from neighboring Iraq after Ankara listed demands for action against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and warned it would resort to asserting its right to self-defense under international law if no steps were taken, a reference to pursuing the PKK terrorists inside Iraq.
In response to questions concerning recent developments, which led Turkey to deliver on Monday a diplomatic note of protest to the Baghdad government concerning the presence of the PKK in northern Iraq, Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül said Turkey's intention was extremely clear. "Our intention is to build friendship and brotherhood in the region," he said. However the foreign minister emphasized that this would only be possible if countries in the region respected each other's legal borders.
"It is obvious that Turkey favors stability in the region, as well as maintaining peace with its neighbors," he said, adding: "But if there harm spreads to Turkey from its neighbors then the neighbors should do whatever is necessary. If [that neighbor] doesn't have the sufficient power to do so, then international law offers opportunities for doing so," Gül stated.
Gül's remarks referring to international law have widely been considered as a confirmation of what was hinted in a brief statement released late on Tuesday following a meeting of the influential National Security Council (MGK). The statement indicated that Turkey could resort to military measures if it did not receive a satisfactory answer to its diplomatic note of protest to Baghdad.
Turkey is not seeking to act as "neighborhood bullies" or to threaten another country, Gül said. "We're just putting forth the fact that these affairs have come to a very dangerous point. Everybody should know that we don't have any hidden agenda concerning Iraq. We want unity and peace in Iraq. However while we want this, if the other side is mistreating us, then we can't remain watching," he added.
Earlier in the day, during a weekly press conference, Foreign Ministry spokesman Levent Bilman expressed Ankara's expectation that the Iraqi government take "urgent" action against the PKK members who had found safe haven in northern Iraq.
Bilman said that the diplomatic note delivered to Baghdad contained demands for action against the PKK, listed as a terrorist group by Turkey and much of the international community. "Turkey demanded that Iraq ensures its border security and captures and hands over to Turkey members of the PKK terrorist organization," he said.
"Determined and urgent steps are expected from Iraq on this issue. The matter is urgent," Bilman added.
Diplomatic sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, underlined that Turkey would not be satisfied unless the Iraqi government took "really concrete steps," such as the closure of organizations and media organs linked to the PKK, and for Baghdad to include the PKK on its list of terrorist groups. "Terrorists being sought by Interpol are able to give statements on television channels based in Iraq," the same sources noted, in an apparent effort to illustrate the gravity of the issue for Ankara. Tensions over the PKK presence in northern Iraq flared this week upon Iraqi Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani's remarks in which he openly threatened to stir unrest in Turkey's Southeast.
Despite Iraqi President Jalal Talabani's and Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's bid to ease tensions, Barzani on Tuesday continued releasing controversial remarks that touches a raw nerve in Turkey. Delivering a conference in Arbil, Barzani suggested that not holding a referendum on status of the city slated for the end of 2007 would lead to a "disaster."
"Kirkuk is an internal issue and its solution will be found in the country. When we become sure that the Article 140 [of the Iraqi Constitution which outlines holding of the referendum on Kirkuk] will not be implemented, then it will be the time of explosion of a disaster as well," he said sticking to his threatening tone against Turkey. Ankara has from the very beginning argued that the referendum should either be postponed or should be held only after a consensus among different groups living in the city is maintained.
Turkey has repeatedly expressed its concern over an ongoing influx of Kurds from other parts of Iraq into the city of Kirkuk, saying this is a systematic attempt to change the demographic composition of the city ahead of the referendum. Ankara says Kirkuk, which sits atop 6 percent of the world's known oil reserves, should have a special status preserving its multicultural structure.
Source: Today's Zaman
Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16