09/22 Turkish Weekly: Babacan: PKK and Armenian resolution pose danger to Turkish-US ties

Babacan: PKK and Armenian resolution pose danger to Turkish-US ties

Source:US-Turkish Relations

CHICAGO - Turkey's strategic partnership with the United States are facing risks from the terrorist threat posed by the outlawed PKK in Iraq and resolutions pending in the US Congress on Armenian claims, Turkish 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. There are at least 3500 PKK terrorists in Iraq and no single PKK militant has been captured or arrested by the US or Iraqi authorities.

"We expect the United States and the Iraqi government to take urgent and concrete steps in handing over the PKK terrorists to justice," Babacan 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. Armenians name the 1915 communal clashes as genocide while the Turks argue the reverse. According to the Ottoman archives more than 520.000 Turkish, Kurdish and Jewish civilian people were massacred by the Armenian nationalist groups during the First World War. Turkey accepts the Ottoman State's responsibility for the bad results yet Ankara has never accepted the genocide claims.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ali 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," Babacan 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 Armenian claims.

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 September 2007

Source: http://www.turkishweekly.net/news.php?id=48764#