ANKARA: Babacan: PKK, Armenian resolution pose danger to US ties

Babacan: PKK, Armenian resolution pose danger to US ties

Today’s Zaman
22.09.2007

Turkey’s strategic relations with the United States are facing risks
from the terrorist threat posed by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’
Party (PKK) in Iraq and resolutions pending in the US Congress on
Armenian genocide claims, Foreign Minister Ali Babacan has said.

Babacan, on a visit to the United States, said it was not possible to
explain to the Turkish people why the PKK still launches attacks on
Turkey from its Iraqi bases. "We expect the United States and the
Iraqi government to take urgent and concrete steps in handing over the
PKK terrorists to justice," he said in a speech to the Chicago Council
on Global Affairs on Thursday, according to excerpts published by the
Anatolia news agency.

Ankara has long been pressing the United States to take action to
eliminate the PKK presence in Iraq and the lack of steps so far
despite Turkish appeals is straining the two countries’ decades-old
alliance. The situation is further complicated by two resolutions
pending in the US Congress that urge the US administration to
recognize Armenian claims of genocide at the hands of the Ottoman
Turks in the beginning of the last century, claims strictly rejected
by Turkey.

Babacan said a third party should not play the judge in a dispute like
this and reminded that Armenian allegations have never been confirmed
legally or historically. "Slanders targeting Turkey have always showed
up in the political arena," he said in his speech. "We want the US
Congress to not take any side in historical matters like this and we
want common sense to win in the end. This is a matter between Turks
and Armenians and can be resolved by frank and sincere dialogue
between the two sides."

Turkey’s hopes that the resolutions will be blocked in the Congress
received a major blow last month when an influential US Jewish group,
the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), revised its long-standing stance and
said the World War I events amounted to genocide. Other Jewish groups
still stick to their position of not supporting the genocide charges.

In Chicago, Babacan met with representatives of US Jewish groups
including the ADL and the American Jewish Federation. In the meeting,
Babacan reiterated that passage of the resolutions would harm both
Turkish-US relations and Turkish-Israeli relations. Representatives of
the Jewish groups, including those of the ADL, insisted at the meeting
that they were against the resolutions in the Congress. They also
raised concerns over Iran’s nuclear program, while Turkey said its
recent energy deal with Iran should be considered as part of its
policy of diversification of energy sources. In his speech at the
Chicago Council on Global Affairs, Babacan said Turkey has been urging
Iran to be transparent about its nuclear program and said Ankara could
play a role in passing the international community’s messages to Iran
as well as Syria, emphasizing that isolating these two countries would
be wrong.

The foreign minister also gave assurances that Turkey would continue
its efforts to become a member of the European Union, saying Turkish
membership will prove the clash of civilizations thesis to be wrong.
He also said Turkey was in a process of fast transition, emphasizing
that it is seeking to become the tenth biggest economy of the world by
2023 and that people are already speaking of Turkey as "Europe’s
China."

22.09.2007
Today’s Zaman Ýstanbul

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