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 Obama offers support for Turkey-Iraq relationship

 Source : Reuters | Agencies  
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Obama offers support for Turkey-Iraq relationship  17.2.2009  

February 17, 2009

WASHINGTON,   U.S. President Barack Obama has told Turkish President Abdullah Gul and Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan he hoped to strengthen ties with their country and expressed support for Turkey's growing relationship with Iraq, the White House said on Monday.

Obama spoke to the two men by phone earlier in the day.

"In both calls, the leaders discussed a number of current issues, including U.S. support for the growing Turkish-Iraqi relationship, the importance of cooperation in Middle East peace efforts, and the U.S. review on Afghanistan and Pakistan policy," the White House said in a statement.                               

U.S. President Barack Obama
Turkey has repeatedly attacked hideouts of Turkish-Kurdish separatists in the northern mountainous of Kurdistan region of Iraq.

The White House said Obama emphasized the importance of the U.S.-Turkey alliance and expressed his desire to work on a "broad agenda" of mutual strategic interest.

"The President emphasized his desire to strengthen U.S.-Turkish relations and to work together effectively in NATO," the statement said.

Erdogan's office said the prime minister emphasized the strategic cooperation between the two countries.

"Prime Minister Erdogan especially expressed Turkey's sensitivities on Armenia and the Middle East policies,
www.ekurd.netand he said it was important that the U.S. follows a fair and impartial policy for not hurting relations between the two countries," the statement said.

U.S. objections to Turkish operations against Turkey's Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) guerrillas based in northern Iraq have created tensions between Ankara and Washington in the past. The guerrillas have frequently carried out attacks inside Turkey.

U.S.-Armenia ties are another potential source of tension. Turkey firmly rejects allegations of Armenian genocide and has said U.S. recognition of genocide would "poison" U.S.-Turkey relations.

Over 40,000 Turkish soldiers and Kurdish PKK guerrillas have been killed since 1984 when the Turkey's Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) (Partiya Karkeren Kurdistan) took up arms for self-rule in the mainly Kurdish southeast of Turkey (Turkey-Kurdistan). A large Turkey's Kurdish community openly sympathise with the Kurdish PKK rebels. Turkey refuses to recognize its Kurdish population as a distinct minority.

The PKK demanded Turkey's recognition of the Kurds' identity in its constitution and of their language as a native language along with Turkish in the country's Kurdish areas,
the party also demanded an end to ethnic discrimination in Turkish laws and constitution against Kurds, ranting them full political freedoms.

Turkey refuses to recognize its Kurdish population as a distinct minority. It has allowed some cultural rights such as limited broadcasts in the Kurdish language and private Kurdish language courses with the prodding of the European Union, but Kurdish politicians say the measures fall short of their expectations.

The PKK is considered a 'terrorist' organization by Ankara and U.S., the PKK continues to be on the blacklist list in EU despite court ruling which overturned a decision to place the Kurdish rebel group PKK and its political wing on the European Union's terror list.

Copyright, respective author or news agency,  Reuters | Agencies

** Kurds are not recognized as an official minority in Turkey and are denied rights granted to other minority groups. Under EU pressure, Turkey recently granted Kurds limited rights for broadcasts and education in the Kurdish language, but critics say the measures do not go far enough.

The use of the term "Kurdistan" is vigorously rejected due to its alleged political implications by the Republic of Turkey, which does not recognize the existence of a "Turkish Kurdistan" Southeast Turkey.

Others estimate over 40 million Kurds live in Big Kurdistan (Iraq, Turkey, Syria, Iran, Armenia), which covers an area as big as France, about half of all Kurds which estimate to 20 million live in Turkey.

Turkey is home to 25 million ethnic Kurds, a large Turkey's Kurdish community openly sympathise with the Kurdish PKK for a Kurdish homeland in the country's mainly Kurdish southeast of Turkey.

Before August 2002, the Turkish government placed severe restrictions on the use of Kurdish language, prohibiting the language in education and broadcast media. The Kurdish alphabet is still not recognized in Turkey, and use of the Kurdish letters X, W, Q which do not exist in the Turkish alphabet has led to judicial persecution in 2000 and 2003

The Kurdish flag flown officially in Iraqi Kurdistan but unofficially flown by Kurds in Armenia. The flag is banned in Iran, Syria, and Turkey where flying it is a criminal offence" 

Southeastern Turkey: North Kurdistan ( Kurdistan-Turkey) wikipedia    


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