Letter: Kurdish peace the only hope for Turkey

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Sir: After the collapse of the government in Turkey perhaps an observer of the elections of 1994 and 1995 could comment.

Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey, came to power after massacres had removed the Armenian population from the national territory. He defeated and expelled nearly all the Greek population. There remained, however, several million Kurds.

The strongest efforts were made to assimilate those so-called "mountain Turks". The result was repeated Kurdish uprisings which were suppressed.

In 1984 the eastern and south-eastern provinces again rose in arms. Since then there has been continuous conflict, despite several offers of cease- fires by the insurgents. Thousands of villages have been destroyed and millions of Kurds displaced form east to west, and from the country to the cities. In spite of martial law and the widespread use of torture on suspects, there is no prospect of a military solution.

Meanwhile Turkey has suffered excessive military expenditure, high inflation and a depreciating currency. Turkish democracy has been poisoned by the imprisonment of MPs, the banning of parties, the murder of journalists and even news vendors and by many trials of trades unionists, academics and intellectuals for expressing their opinions.

Even now a resolute government could do much to restore peace and prosperity. The essentials are autonomy for the Kurdish regions, repeal of the laws banning Kurdish in education and the media, and a progressive reduction in military spending. Such measures when combined with the Customs Union with the EU, could restore the economy and make possible a revival of democracy. Negotiations, leading to real political solutions, are the only hope.

Lord HYLTON

House of Lords

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