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
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Client Relationship Assistant / Business Support

£18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you willing to give fantastic Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Administrative Assistant / Assistant Document Controller

£11000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Greenwich based firm of Archite...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum