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TURKEY - July 29 - Special Status For Kurds Ruled Out.

Deputy PM Devlet Bahceli says Turkey could not grant minority status to Kurds because that would legitimate the separatist war waged by Kurdish rebels. (Kurdish leader Ocalan - sentenced to hang for treason in 1999 - had from his jail cell ordered his fighters to cease fire and instead wage a peaceful campaign for cultural rights for the country's 12m Kurds. The EU has urged Turkish authorities to ease restrictions on the use of Kurdish language in education and broadcasting and improve its human rights record as a step towards EU membership. Turkey has so far refused, saying Kurds enjoy equal rights with Turks before the law.) Bahceli tells 'Hurriyet': "It is impossible for us to accept such an approach which on ethnic basis could justify a terror movement... by producing a new minority concept that goes beyond the minority description made by the Lausanne agreement". Bahceli's conservative coalition partners appear to take a softer line on Kurdish cultural rights. Conservative Mesut Yilmaz, coordinator for Turkey's EU membership bid, had said that now that "terrorism" was over Ankara could take unprecedented steps. (Ocalan's Kurdistan Workers Party [PKK] fought for self-rule for 15 years. Fighting has now largely ended.) Bahceli says there was no ban on using Kurdish in daily life but he opposes any further moves such as officially allowing education in Kurdish. He says: "That would mean handing down what the PKK has been seeking for years as middle term goals in order to reach its final target". The Nationalist Action Party leader also objects to abolishing the death penalty, saying that would save Ocalan's neck.
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Publication:APS Diplomat Recorder
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:7TURK
Date:Aug 5, 2000
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