ABDULLAH OCALAN'S ARREST
Verdicts on Turkey's capture and intended trial of the
leader of the Kurdish Workers' Party, Abdullah Ocalan
Turkish Daily News
TURKEY IS a powerful state whose arms can extend everywhere to apprehend a criminal and bring him to justice. Turkey has proved that it is an asset for its friends and a dreaded enemy for its foes. It has flexed its muscles in the Ocalan event and has proven its value. Turkey not only pushed Ocalan out of Syria but also prevented any European country from giving refuge to this terrorist leader. His arrest is only the beginning. We feel he should be brought to justice without any delay or fuss. However, we all have to be on guard against emotional separatist terrorist outbursts these days, both at home and in Europe.
ALL THE European countries have good reasons to try to stay away from the Ocalan case. Germany has to think about its 2 million Turks and half a million Kurds residing on its territory, and about the possible risks for its public order. Greece already has very difficult relations with Turkey. In Italy, part of the leftist parties have close ties to the PKK [Kurdish Workers' Party] and the volatile government majority may split over Ocalan. But the truth is that the Kurds are a nation, the PKK is a party, and the European Union is neither.
The Kurdish problem may even be impossible to solve. Europe doesn't have the courage to either to face it or simply deny it. As it always happens, Europe could only cover its weakness with silence.
TURKEY WILL be sorry that Ocalan was captured. The Kurds will express their feelings not only in the streets of Europe but also by acts of terror in Turkey. World opinion sees people such as Ocalan as freedom fighters. If he is sentenced to death, world leaders will act for his amnesty. The Kurds will take hostages in an effort to win the freedom of their leader. The struggle for Kurdish independence will be renewed. It's questionable whether all this is worth the head of the leader of the underground, who was seen as an escaped terrorist.
IF AUSTRALIAN Kurds are genuine about making representations on behalf of Kurds, they could do worse than exploit that relationship and whatever leverage we can exert. Turkey's treatment of the Kurds remains a stumbling block to its joining the EU and it knows it. The Government should press Turkey to ensure that Mr Ocalan's trial is both fair and transparent and that a better deal can be found for the country's Kurdish population.
THE KURDS have long been a people in search of their own country. They have been gassed by Saddam Hussein in Iraq and persecuted in Iran. In Turkey, they represent some 15 per cent of the population today, and their claims go back to 1920. It is one measure of Turkey's unbending approach to dissent that the separatist rebellion has gone so long without a negotiated settlement. At first blush, it doesn't appear that Ocalan's arrest will make such a settlement any more likely.
The mood in Turkey is both jubilant and defiant in the face of Western criticism. It would, however, be in Ankara's interest to hold a fair interrogation and trial of Ocalan and to be seen to be doing so. At home, Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit is a doubly crowned hero - during an earlier stint Turkish troops had invaded northern Cyprus and remain there - but he will need to negotiate through choppy international waters with great care and astuteness to sell his new triumph to the world.
The Japan Times
THE CAPTURE of Ocalan, used wisely, could permit the Turkish government to claim that it has defeated the armed struggle and is now ready to get on with a political solution. Ocalan has never been an ideal leader, and a more thoughtful, politically attractive and savvy leader could now emerge in his place. That may not be good news for Turkey with its current policies - especially since the trial of Ocalan, if not handled right, presents Ankara with major problems, attracting international press coverage, putting Turkish justice itself on trial and perhaps creating a national martyr for the Kurdish population. Handled correctly, his trial could also present a major opportunity for the government to demonstrate a new tolerance toward Kurdish political activity in the country among moderate, non-violent and democratic Kurdish leaders. Turkey should have the self- confidence to move in this direction.
GENETICALLY MODIFIED FOOD
Comment on public anxiety about the safety of genetically altered food
THE GOVERNMENT deserves to be supported against those who scream for new bans and moratoriums. But it would be quite wrong to suggest that nothing serious is at stake here. Ignorant as most of us may be about the science involved, we are surely right to sense that the growing possibilities of breaching the species barrier are threatening to our sense of the order of being and our human place in it. We need guidance across this new territory, and we are uncomfortably aware that we are not getting it.
MANY CONSUMERS are under the impression that "Frankenstein foods" have yet to escape from the laboratory, even though 60 per cent of processed foods contain genetically modified soya. Giving shoppers more information about what food contains is the surest way to allay their fears. Genetic engineering is a complex issue which cannot be addressed by soundbite assurances or allegations. If Mr Hague confronts consumers' fears in an adult manner, reaffirming his belief that informed individuals should make their own decisions about what they eat, he will win plaudits. If not, he will find that food scares are creating a Frankenstein's monster which he cannot control.
The Birmingham Post
Once again, the vested interests of corporations, governments - and sheer greed - have introduced another potential for disaster into the human diet: a cocktail swimming in artificial substances, food which is irradiated, treated, modified and mutated. Food poisoning has been at an all-time high. As if the lessons of BSE and the salmonella in eggs scandal were not enough, the genetically modified food scandal again exposes the fact that, where public health issues and safety are concerned, the controlling authorities and regulating bodies are too inept to tackle the issue of GMs. Let us hope that the small business corner shop can win back customers from the multiples by selling natural produce. (Fay Goodman)
SCIENTISTS HAVE to make a living like anybody else and those in the forefront of biotechnology research, hungry for grants from industry and government, are hardly likely to support a moratorium on further work. So what should the Government do? One answer is to produce food in order to feed people, not to make profits. Another, perhaps more realistic, is to treat people as adults, giving them the (uncertain) facts, insisting on proper labelling and then allowing them to make up their own minds. Which is exactly the policy that governments adopt for the riskiest products of all: tobacco and alcohol.
ALTERING THE way Mother Nature produces the things we eat may well be to everyone's benefit. But no one is going to be reassured by the glib words of any politician, least of all Jack Cunningham. And while Lord Sainsbury (recognise the name, shoppers?) is a junior minister the Government will find it hard to convince anyone it has no axe to grind. The Sun has never made the mistake of leaping on to the bandwagon of every latest scare story. We didn't do it with Aids or BSE - and we're not going to with GM. What we need is exhaustive scientific tests and an unbiased, factual opinion.
THE ATTACKS on Lord Sainsbury are a red herring in the storm over GM foods. For it all comes down to the public's lack of confidence in their safety. Tony Blair, usually so in touch with public opinion, is for once out of step. He must understand that his opinions on these controversial new products cannot be rammed down people's throats - any more than GM foods can be.
KEVIN KEEGAN'S PART-TIME JOB
Views on the Football Association's decision to appoint Kevin Keegan as temporary manager of England football team
The Evening Mail
MANAGING ENGLAND is more than a livelihood, it is the greatest honour our game can bestow. A life of itself. Al-Fayed, Keegan's boss at Fulham, appears to understand this and gave permission to Keegan to talk to the FA. For Keegan not to would have seemed wilful. He is a man whose emotional agonies have fascinated us and who preferred to play golf in Spain to staying in the game.
QUITE WHAT has transformed Keegan from helmsman of Mohamed Fayed's money-laden "plucky cup battlers" to potential world-beater in the fortnight since Hoddle's departure is unclear. But we must wish him well and hope that, in the short term at least, his drive will do the trick. In the longer term, the FA must abandon sticking-plaster solutions, look a little further than inspiration and set up a conveyor belt of tactically astute coaches.
The Birmingham Post
THIS GIVES the former England captain the opportunity to test out the demands of the national job. He has the best of all worlds. Win and he's a hero. Lose and he's only the caretaker with an exit door wedged ajar for a swift getaway.
KEEGAN IS in an awkward spot. He can't answer to the FA and the oily Egyptian. We need an above-board appointment with no strings. And that means no deals with a man as slippery as camel dung.
The Daily Telegraph
ONE OR two of Keegan's predecessors have been found twisting in the wind, hanged by their own words. In certain sections of the press, he will find, our football managers and coaches are treated far more severely than any of our politicians. There will be unsuccessful days on the field, after which he will find himself described on the pages of the tabloid newspapers in terms designed to make his family flee their home. He will find it easier to take this playfulness with good humour if he learns by heart Kipling's poem, "If".
HILLARY CLINTON'S AMBITIONS
The US press considers the possibility of the First Lady running for election to the Senate
Topeka Capital Journal
IT WAS clear from the outset that Hillary Rodham Clinton would not be a cookie-baking first lady. She has her own following, and undoubtedly her own silent ambitions. Mrs Clinton has emerged from her husband's scandal looking only taller for her dignified air and measured tongue - and for weathering the buffeting winds stirred up by her husband's philandering. A race in 2000 with her in it would be intriguing. In fact, why not stage another Dole-Clinton race for president - only in high heels?Just when you thought politics was dull...
CONVENTIONAL WISDOM this week has Hillary running next year for a US Senate seat from New York State. Probably. Or possibly even as vice-presidential running mate to Al Gore. Either would be viewed by her as a stepping stone. With 20 or more years left for her own political career, Hillary's goal has to be a return to the White House as the first female president. She might make it, sans a "first man". Unless Elizabeth Dole beats her to it, hubby Bob in hand.
LET US once again turn to the Constitution: "If the president is impeached in the House and acquitted in the Senate - his wife must move to New York." Speculation akimbo: If Hillary runs for Senate, her campaign could be both lively and a perfect cover for a trial separation. Try to imagine Sen Hillary Rodham Clinton as a new junior member. Who's going to tell her that her seat is in the back? Or, President Elizabeth Dole - as first husband Bob hosts the traditional Senate spouses lunch, where Bill Clinton is wearing a name tag.
JACK STRAW HAS A GO
Response to the Home Secretary's appeal to the public not to turn a blind eye to crime
DRAWING THE line between standing up for the citizen on the street and putting one's own personal security at risk is difficult. The danger in Jack Straw's call for an end to the walk on by society is that in obeying his command people will get hurt. None the less he is right: if we did all stand up for each other more, it would make an enormous difference to our quality of life. We should not allow ourselves to be held hostage by the thug society.
STRAW SHOULD use his authority over the police to encourage a preventive line by officers at the scene of crimes. Instead of asking witnesses what they saw, officers should ask how events were allowed to get so out of hand. It ought to make witnesses think more deeply about what could have been done to prevent the particular crime or antisocial behaviour. The test facing Mr Straw is whether his attack on the "walk on by" society is left as a one-off soundbite or has a proper follow-through.
WE ARE an undisciplined society, teeming with self-righteous semi-anarchists, in which we increasingly use the law to try to regulate fairly minor antisocial behaviour. The result is... many people feel that to be active citizens in the way Straw recommends is to go along with an increasing busybodiness that is deeply unpopular.
MR STRAW'S rallying cry is an admirable one, but until he takes steps to ensure that enforcing the law will not land the ordinary citizen on the wrong side of it, it may fall on deaf ears.
Stories from around the world
Lubbock Avalanche Journal
TODAY IS "Kids Aren't Cargo Day". This refers to the danger posed to children riding in the beds of pick-up trucks. That danger is such an obvious one that it is hard to believe anyone would allow their children to do such a thing.
THE AUDIO cassette to be played at the pro-religion Virtue Party (FP) rallies begins with litanies in praise of God and ends with Boney M's "Rasputin", which tells the story of the "mad Russian priest". In the new version, the lyrics, in Turkish, are a call for justice and freedom. For the first time, female voices are used on an FP cassette. The FP Chairman approved of the cassette, according to the chairman of Ironyplus, the advertising company which prepared the medley.
WHEN THE national judo team took part in the games in Beijing after a 16-year absence, it returned home empty-handed. Just a year later we've picked up the gold medal at the Games held in Manila, signalling an impressive return by Vietnam into the regional judo arena.