Kurdish Embassy Attacks: German call for ban on guerrillas: Bonn passes buck to regions as new Turkish PM hints at fresh initiatives on the ethnic problem

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The Independent Online
THERE were calls in Germany yesterday for a ban on the Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK) responsible for the attacks across Europe on Thursday.

Bonn rejected complaints by Turkey that warnings of possible attacks had not been taken seriously enough. The Bavarian Interior Minister, Gunther Beckstein, said that the 'general indications' of Kurdish attacks meant that security at the consulate in Munich was on the highest alert.

The Kurdish extremists who held 20 hostages inside the consulate had apparently gained access by queuing outside. The siege ended peacefully after 13 hours when Bernd Schmidbauer, a senior aide to Chancellor Helmut Kohl, became involved in negotiations. The hostage-takers had demanded to see his identity card and appeared impressed by the fact that a senior official from the Chancellor's office had come to talk to them.

One of their initial demands was that Mr Kohl should go on television to condemn Turkish policies towards the Kurds. The PKK may feel that the widespread publicity given to the Kurdish dispute with Turkey as a result of Thursday's actions has been worthwhile.

The government spokesman, Dieter Vogel, emphasised that the Turkish ambassador had officially thanked the German government for its handling of the siege. On Thursday, the ambassador had publicly expressed his anger at Bonn's failure to take warnings seriously. Bonn appeared to pass the blame down the line by saying that warnings had been given to the regional governments, which - it was implied - had failed to react with sufficient speed and efficiency. There were a dozen attacks, of varying seriousness, across Germany.

Mr Beckstein, of the CSU - the Bavarian sister-party of Mr Kohl's Christian Democrats - said that it was 'essential' that the PKK should be banned 'without delay'. There were similar calls from senior members of the Social Democrats.

There was insistence, too, that - in the words of the Bavarian Prime Minister, Edmund Stoiber - foreign disputes 'cannot be settled on our soil'. There have been threats of deportations against those committing violence in Germany.

Thursday's events are especially unwelcome for Bonn. The government is keen to improve relations with Ankara following the Solingen murders last month when five Turkish women and girls were burnt to death in an arson attack. At that time, Turkey made plain its displeasure that Bonn was not taking the problem of anti-Turkish violence seriously enough. Thursday's attacks by the PKK allow Mr Kohl to emphasise - as he already had done in his speech shortly after Solingen - that the violence against Turks is not just by Germans but is also inter-ethnic.

Germany wants to raise the question of Kurdish violence at a meeting of European interior and justice ministers in Copenhagen next week.

A diplomatic row between Turkey and Switzerland intensified yesterday after Swiss officials asked to search the Turkish embassy in Bern to find the weapons used to kill a Kurdish demonstrator on Thursday. Yesterday some 400 Kurds marched through Bern to protest against the shooting of the 29-year-old demonstrator, Semsettin Kurt, as Kurds tried to storm the embassy building on Thursday. Eight others were wounded in the gunfire.

Turkey's ambassador to Switzerland, Kaya Toperi, said on Thursday that Bern embassy staff fired into the air to deter the protesters. In Ankara, a Foreign Ministry official said Turkey had sent a team of inquiry to Bern yesterday.

(Photograph omitted)