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NEWS & COMMENTARY 2008 SPEAKERS 2007 2006 2005

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


Istanbul, 18 July (AKI) - Turkey say it has a right to carry out cross-border raids into Iraq to fight Kurdish separatists who in the last four days have killed 15 Turkish soldiers. "We have told Iraqi and American officials many times [of the need to act against the separatists operating from Iraq]. The United States should help Iraq destroy the PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party) bases in Northern Iraq," Turkish government spokesman Cemil Cicek said on Monday.

He was speaking after a cabinet meeting in which the introduction of tough anti-terrorism measures was discussed. However, the government says it does not intend to impose martial law on the mainly Kurdish populated southeast part of Turkey. Ankara governed the region through martial law for nearly two decades (1984-1999).

The cabinet talks Monday followed two meetings of Turkey's recently established Supreme Anti-terrorism Board, which is headed by foreign minister Abdullah Gul and includes high ranking officials from the interior and defence ministries, the army and intelligence services.

The new anti-terrorism law makes a wide range of criminal offences - from drug and human-trafficking to hijacking of transport vehicles and forgery - punishable as terrorist acts if they’re committed with the aim of supporting terrorism.

The law calls for prison terms of 1-3 years for those who publish the statements of terrorist organisations. The law also provides prison terms up to 3 years for “propaganda” by way of shouting slogans and carrying banners during demonstrations in favor of terrorist groups.

Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer has approved the package of measures, but noted that he would apply to the Constitutional Court to have some of the articles annulled. A released statement did not specify which articles Sezer objected to.

Also the US and Iraqi ambassadors in Ankara were summoned Monday to the Foreign Ministry to hear Turkey’s mounting complaints of Washington and Baghdad’s inaction against PKK bases in Northern Iraq.

Turkish newpapers Tuesday were critical of US Ambassador Ross Wilson’s statements against Turkish involvment in Iraq and they suggested Washington was adopting double standards.

During a press conference Wilson said that Israel has right to self-defence on the ongoing crisis in Middle East, but said that Ankara should not initiate cross-border military operation without consulting its allies.

Meanwhile, Turkey has said it has deployed special troops from Kayseri Commando team were deployed to Iraq border according to the DHA news agency. This is a special military team which is specialized in guerilla warfare.

As the amendments were being debated earlier in the month, Amnesty International called them ‘draconian’.
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