In an apparent call to members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which uses northern Iraq as a launch pad for attacks on Turkey, Iraqi Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani said Kurds should abandon using violence as it is no longer a useful tool for achieving certain targets, Today's Zaman reported.
Barzani's remarks -- which are the latest in a serious of positive messages concerning relations with Turkey over the last month -- came in the resort town of Salahaddin in Arbil, where he gathered with a group from Turkey's Şırnak Bar Association, the Zagros television station, based in Arbil and owned by Barzani's Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), reported yesterday.
"Today, the use of violence is left in the past. Kurds should adjust themselves to this transformation and change their mentality; they should try the other path that is modern and peaceful," Barzani was quoted as saying during the meeting.
In the last few weeks, Iraqi Kurdish news portals have constantly reported on positive messages delivered by Barzani, particularly concerning a landmark visit to Ankara by Iraqi President Jalal Talabani on March 7-8.
The Iraqi president's visit had come only one week after the Turkish military withdrew troops from northern Iraq following an eight-day ground offensive against the PKK.
Washington, which provided intelligence assistance to Turkey during the offensive, has urged the Turkish capital to have direct talks with the largely autonomous Kurdish administration in northern Iraq led by Barzani, who has angered Ankara by defying Turkish calls to designate the PKK a terrorist organization and prove that he is not supporting the organization by taking visible steps to show otherwise.
The PKK, listed as a terrorist organization by Ankara and much of the international community, took up arms for self-rule in the mainly Kurdish southeastern region of Turkey in 1984, sparking a conflict that has claimed at least 37,000 lives.
Bilateral relations have soured over Turkish fears that Iraqi Kurds plan to break away from Iraq, a prospect Ankara fears could fuel the separatist terrorism inside its own borders.
Nonetheless, also recently, Barzani had repeatedly voiced his administration's loyalty to Iraq's unity.
"The Kurds represented and still represent an essential pillar in the political process; before the former regime was ousted, we were almost an independent state, but Kurdistan's (northern Iraq) parliament opted for unity with our Iraqi brothers outside of the Kurdistan region," Barzani was quoted as saying in an interview with the Aswat al-Iraq news agency earlier this month.
Over the weekend, at a gathering with KDP executives and members, Barzani delivered similar conciliatory messages both on Iraq's unity and the future of relations with Turkey.
"We need a fundamental change. We brought democracy for Iraq and federalism for Kurdistan. Carrying our nationalism to another phase is not on the agenda anymore because we should prepare ourselves for the next phase like we had prepared ourselves for the last phase," Barzani was quoted as saying at the gathering by the Peyamner Web site, affiliated with the KDP.
"We want our relations with neighboring countries. The phase of denying a nation is left in the past as well. Now is the phase of dialogue. Kurds shouldn't get involved with violence either amongst itself or in neighboring countries. ... The mentality of the Kurdish should change and this way the mentality of these countries would also change," Barzani was also quoted as saying.
Earlier this month, Foreign Minister Ali Babacan said if the regional Iraqi Kurdish authorities in northern Iraq display a stronger stance against the presence of the PKK on their soil, Ankara would be encouraged to engage in more substantive dialogue with them.
Stressing the importance Ankara attaches to contacts with the central government in Baghdad, Babacan said there are already "channels of communication" between Ankara and the regional administration in northern Iraq, when asked whether there was a plan for a visit to Ankara by Nechirvan Barzani, Massoud Barzani's nephew and prime minister of the Kurdish region.
Last Mod: 16 Nisan 2008, 08:07