`Greece fed weapons to Kurd rebels'

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The Independent Online
IT WAS exactly the ammunition Turkey's government wanted in its war of words with Greece over the capture of the Kurdish rebel Abdullah Ocalan.

A Turkish newspaper, Hurriyet, said he had told interrogators Greece supplied his Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK) with arms. The claim may embarrass the European Union, which yesterday called on Turkey to give Mr Ocalan a fair trial and to let international observers attend, as Greece is a member of the bloc.

"Greece has supported the PKK for years," the paper quoted Mr Ocalan as saying. "Greece even helped us with weapons and rockets." According to the article he said Greece supplied him with the false Cypriot passport with which he travelled to Kenya and supplied the PKK with training facilities.

The rebel leader, who was snatched from Kenya by Turkish special forces last week, is being interrogated before his trial. Turkey blames him for 37,000 deaths in the PKK's 14-year campaign to win Kurdish autonomy in south-east Turkey.

"Greece should be added to the list of countries that support terrorism and harbour terrorists," the Turkish President, Suleyman Demirel, said, according to Turkey's semi-official Anatolia News Agency. "A country like that can only be described as an outlaw state."

But there were sceptical reactions to the claims, which dovetail with routine Turkish government propaganda about Greece. Interrogations like Mr Ocalan's are supposed to be secret. When his former deputy, Semdin Sakik, was captured and interrogated last year, similar reports emerged claiming he had linked several prominent critics of Turkey's Kurdish policy with the PKK. No prosecutions have been brought in connection with the allegations.

Hurriyet has close links with Turkey's establishment. Since the capture of Mr Ocalan, who was staying at the Greek embassy in Nairobi, Turkey has turned up the heat on Greece. At the weekend the Foreign Minister, Ismail Cem, urged the EU to examine Greece's role in sheltering Mr Ocalan.

Greece's new Foreign Minister, George Papandreou, urged the EU to take a strong stance on Turkey's treatment of its Kurdish minority.

EU foreign ministers were reported to be preparing a statement calling on Turkey to ensure Mr Ocalan receives a fair trial.

r Belgium threatened sanctions against the Kurdish television station Med-TV, warning it not to transmit more calls inciting violence against Turkey or Turkish institutions abroad, Reuters reports.

The Interior Minister, Luc Van Den Bossche, who summoned Med-TV to his office on Sunday, told Belgian radio yesterday: "Whenever there was trouble in recent months (Med-TV) called for calm; now suddenly they are sending a broadcast into the world calling for violence."

Med-TV transmits from Belgium with a British licence.