Turkey’s European Union minister Egemen Bağış has demanded for concrete cooperation from the European Union after his talks with an EU ambassador in Ankara, asking the 27-member club not to remain silent over a string of attacks by the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) that killed 24 troops and injured 18 others early on Wednesday.
Bağış summoned Pierini to his ministry to talk about the latest PKK attacks and he was expected to once again express Turkey’s concerns over some EU countries’ lenient stance regarding the PKK during his talks with head of the EU delegation to Turkey, Marc Pierini. Turkey has long complained of the PKK’s financial resources in Europe, accusing some countries of indirectly or directly supporting the PKK.
Bağış told reporters following his talks with the EU ambassador that the only indication of friendship is honesty and “we expect honesty from our friends,” referring to EU member states, which Turkey accused of tolerating certain activities, including the funneling of money to the PKK. He slammed those who he said view PKK terrorism as a human rights issue and stressed that there is nothing more valuable than the right to live.
The Turkish EU minister also criticized the EU progress report the bloc made public last week in which it criticized the recent arrest of hundreds of Kurdish politicians suspected of being members of the Kurdish Communities’ Union (KCK), a political offshoot of the PKK. Turkey accuses the KCK of directly supporting and funding the terrorist organization.
Bağış said he hopes those who criticized Turkey for the KCK arrests will now understand the “grave mistake they have made.”
Bağış added that he had a chance to comprehensively discuss the PKK attacks with Pierini and said the EU Commission will soon release a statement condemning the attack. The EU minister confirmed that Turkey has seen increased cooperation from some EU member states, including on intelligence sharing, but he said Turkish people want more concrete support in Turkey’s fight against terrorism.
Pierini told reporters in the news conference that the European Union will continue to cooperate with Turkey in tangible areas in its perennial fight against terrorism.
Pierini’s remarks came as Turkey began an offensive against Iraq hours after PKK members, who are fighting for autonomy in Turkey’s southeast, staged simultaneous attacks on military outposts and police stations near the border towns of Hakkari’s Çukurca and Yüksekova.
The Interior Ministry first announced that 26 soldiers had been killed and 22 had been wounded, but Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan later corrected those figures to 24 dead and 18 wounded, without explaining the discrepancy. It is the deadliest PKK attack on Turkey’s military since the 1990s. The PKK said fighting has been taking place in two separate areas close to the mountainous Iraqi-Turkish border.
Pierini said the PKK has been branded a terrorist organization by Brussels, pledging that the EU will continue its cooperation with Turkey to fight terrorism. According to Pierini, both Ankara and Brussels have an agreement to cooperate in tangible areas against PKK terrorism, adding that Turkey and EU member states have displayed cooperation in this regard.
Pierini is expected to hold a video conference with EU Commissioner for External Affairs Catherine Ashton to discuss the latest attack and EU strategy with respect to Turkey. The EU ambassador said EU Commissioner for Enlargement Stefan Füle and Ashton had talks in Brussels and will release a statement on the PKK attacks shortly. Pierini further said he had visited the ministry to express his condolences and reiterate that the EU stands by Turkey, noting that nothing can justify these terrorist attacks.
19 October 2011, Wednesday / TODAYSZAMAN.COM,