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    Prime minister's office denies report on Turkey’s top general

    HotNewsTurkey Staff
    31.10.2008 - 10:15 | Son Güncelleme:

    The Turkish prime minister's office denied Thursday the contents of newspaper reports citing highly classified information from a top-level anti-terror meeting. (UPDATED)

    Several pro-government newspapers reported on Thursday that Turkey's military heads advised ministers during Monday’s cabinet briefing to speed up Kurdish broadcasting on state television, appoint "imams" to curb terrorist fuelled hatred that leads to increased recruits for the terror organization, PKK.


    The prime minister's office dubbed the reports "baseless manipulations".


    However, speculation surrounding the reports points to three journalists who met with a participant of the meeting and learnt of the details and proposals of the chief of General Staff, Ilker Basbug,to end terrorism, the Turkish Daily News (TDN) reported.


    "We are open to all proposals to end terrorism, including speaking to terrorist supporters. Therefore, we are not against speaking to Barzani, though we are not hopeful of the outcome," the top general said, according to dailies Yeni Safak, Zaman and Sabah.


    Stories on the briefing include Basbug's demand for accelerating the work for Kurdish broadcasting on state television, which he allegedly said "is not going fast".


    Yeni Safak described Basbug's approach to counter-terrorism as unorthodox. "The best terrorist is not the dead one but the one that surrenders," Basbug was quoted as saying.


    The paper also claimed the general said the military's killing of terrorists increased the feeling of hatred and only encouraged more recruits to join the ranks of the terror organization, PKK.


    Religion has a considerable appeal in the region and religious officers have an important role to play in preventing new recruits, said Basbug, according to the dailies.


    The general allegedly also demanded the appointment of imams to vacant mosques who could convince youths "not to go into the mountains", a colloquial expression that indicates joining the PKK.


    "The only neighboring country where the PKK is nested is Iraq, with 3,000 armed terrorists. Another 1,500 of them are located in Turkey," Basbug reportedly further informed ministers.


    "The terrorist organization is recruiting more people every day, mostly from Istanbul, followed by Diyarbakir and Mardin. Other recruits arrive from Iran and Syria. There are no problems with anti-terror cooperation with these countries," Basbug was also quoted as saying.


    The pro-government dailies also claimed Basbug urged for a more effective fight against PKK propaganda. Basbug reportedly stressed this propaganda exploited democratic rights for its own purposes, especially messages on the Internet, television, radio and newspapers, which he said must be prevented.


    The newspapers agued that the military also warned against possible provocations of the Democratic Society Party (DTP), that could increase urban violence, leading up to the March local elections. The Turkish military would become a fully professional force in its armed struggle against terrorists by 2010; the dailies quoted the general as saying.


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