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    Turkish FM stresses tangible measures against PKK

    Hurriyet English with wires
    19.05.2008 - 13:47 | Son Güncelleme:

    Talks between Turkey and the regional administration in north of Iraq could continue from now on, but noted that tangible measures against the terrorist organization were important, Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan told reporters on Monday. (UPDATED)

    Turkey expects international solidarity to deal with PKK terrorism, Babacan, who attended the World Economic Forum in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, told reporters following his bilateral talks with the officials from Middle East.   

    Babacan said Turkey and the central government in Iraq took important steps on the matter and the central government very clearly opposed to the presence of the terrorist organization on Iraqi territories, the Anatolian Agency reported.

    "However, the stance of regional administration in the north of Iraq was different. We have said dialogue between Turkey and the regional administration would be positively affected if the regional administration managed to become distant from the terrorist organization. Different stances and statements have been in question for nearly one month," Babacan said.

    He also said peace talks between Israel and Syria were under way, adding that both parties requested Turkey's mediation.

    Babacan said Turkey's main target was to restore peace and prosperity in the region, noting that Turkey would not refrain from doing what was necessary within this framework.

    Babacan also met on Monday the Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

    TRANSFORMATION PROCESS

    Babacan addressed later on Monday a session "Fresh Strategies for the Middle East" organized during World Economic Forum meetings.

    The Middle East needed a transformation process, however its imposition from outside would not have positive consequences, he said during the session.

    Babacan also said Turkey was going through an important transformation process and that Turkey could be a model for the other countries in the Middle East with its "democratic structure and overwhelmingly Muslim population."

    Babacan said reforms were underway in political, economic and social areas, noting Turkey's EU membership process accelerated this reform process.

    He said Turkey was trying to preserve its own identity on one side, and on the other side endeavoring to implement values like supremacy of law, democracy, respect to fundamental rights and freedoms and tolerance.

    Turkey and Iran had balanced relations regarding Iran's nuclear activities and Turkey's stance on the issue, Babacan said. He said the border line between the two countries have remained the same for more than 350 years, adding that Turkey was against nuclear weapons in the region.

    He said every country has the right to have nuclear energy for peaceful purposes and added Turkey recommended Iran to hold more talks with the International Atomic Energy Agency.

    The problem can not be resolved by isolating Iran but what would be necessary is political dialogue and diplomacy, he added.

    Babacan also said Turkey initiated the conference of Iraq's neighboring countries and that the initiative has become one of the most important platforms to discuss Iraq's future.

    He said recent military operations launched by Turkey targeted only the PKK which is also labeled as terrorist organization by several international organizations such as NATO and the European Union and stressed that the problem was neither between Turkey and Iraq, nor between Turks and Kurds.

     

    BOOST TO TURKEY-IRAQ RELATIONS

    Babacan and Iraqi Oil Minister Hussein al-Shahristani agreed to improve bilateral relations on a number of areas and exchanged views on the high-ranking consultation mechanism that started between the prime ministers of the two parties, in their meeting on Sunday in Sharm el-Sheikh, the Anatolian Agency reported.

    Ankara has begun to establish a dialogue mechanism with the Kurdish administration of northern Iraq, an important shift in Turkey's foreign policy as a part of its intensified fight against the outlawed separatist PKK on both diplomatic and military fronts.

    Al-Shahristani said Iraq considered relations with Turkey in a strategic vision, and expressed sorrow over the attack against Turkey's Embassy in Baghdad in which a Turkish police officer was injured.

    One Turkish special force soldier in charge of guarding Turkey's embassy in Iraq was injured in an armed attack on Friday. The Turkish foreign ministry strongly condemned the attack.

    Babacan told al-Shahristani he wanted to see Turkish companies in Iraq's list regarding the operation of Iraq's oil beds.

     

    Babacan, who also met World Bank President Robert Zoellick, gave information about the peace campus, industry zones, and various projects in Palestine and Israel, and asked for the support of the World Bank regarding those projects.

    In his meeting with head of the International Atomic Energy Agency Mohammed ElBaradei, the Middle East and the nuclear activities of Iran were the topics of discussion.

    Babacan said Iran should not be isolated and the problem should be solved through dialogue, while ElBaradei gave information to Babacan about the developments regarding Iran and pointed to the importance of Turkey in the region as a contemporary country.

    Developments in the Middle East were discussed during Babacan's meeting with EU Middle East representative March Otte. Otte said the EU wanted to establish a constructive cooperation with Turkey in the region.

    Babacan said the EU should appreciate more the role of Turkey in the Middle East and expresses the readiness of Turkey to open chapter on energy.

    Photo: AA

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