Turks soothe Hurd with talk of Iraq pull-out

BY MICHAEL SHERIDAN

Diplomatic Correspondent

Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister, Hikmet Cetin, pledged yesterday that Turkish troops would end their incursion into Iraq "within weeks" but he refused to set a date for their withdrawal.

"Our military have to reach their objectives and after they have reached them they will withdraw," he said. "We can't set the date, but it will be within weeks."

Mr Cetin was speaking in London after lunch with the Foreign Secretary, Douglas Hurd, as part of Turkey's diplomatic offensive to limit the political damage caused by its campaign against Kurdish guerrillas.

British officials said Mr Hurd repeated Britain's call for an early withdrawal, warned Mr Cetin of the harm done to Turkish relations with Europe and asked for proof of an improvement in human rights.

He reminded the Deputy Prime Minister of the need for Turkey to honour its commitment to safeguard non-combatants and to ensure the delivery of humanitarian aid to the area, according to the official account.

Mr Cetin's said he had found Mr Hurd "very sympathetic." He added: "He understands our position very well."

Britain wishes to strengthen Turkey as a valuable Nato ally and to help to preserve the secular democracy based on the principles of Kemal Ataturk, founder of the modern state.

But the Turkish army's incursion into Iraqi Kurdistan to root out strongholds of the radical PKK, or Kurdish Workers' Party, has caused discomfort in the West. The troops went across the border just after Turkey concluded a customs union with the European Union, a pact which had been delayed by concerns over Turkish policy and must still be ratified by the European Parliament.

Mr Cetin, speaking to his domestic audience in Turkey as well as to the wider world, yesterday gave an uncompromising recital of the Turkish position.

He rejected claims that the incursion violated international law, saying that, in effect, there was a legal vacuum in northern Iraq caused by the creation of a Kurdish "safe haven" north of the 36th parallel. He said the solution was for the Iraqi government to comply with all UN resolutions and so regain its legal authority over the whole of its territory.

Mr Cetin would not acknowledge that Turkey's military campaign against Kurdish extremism was bound to fail if it is not accompanied by political measures to resolve the conflict.

"Terrorism is terrorism," he said. The Deputy Prime Minister refused also to accept that there existed a conflict in Turkey between the government and the Kurdish minorities in the south-east.

"There is no such problem," Mr Cetin said. He ruled out any change in government policy, such as permitting education in the Kurdish language.

"Turkish remains the official language in the schools and that will not change," he said. "If they want to speak or teach their own language privately, that is fine."

Mr Cetin said there was no danger that the military campaign marked a reassertion of the army's power over that of the civilian politicians.

"The government committed itself to democratic reforms and the military action will not affect this," he said. "It has nothing to do with it."

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea