Ankara lauds Kurdish efforts

Jan. 15, 2010 at 1:20 PM

ANKARA, Turkey, Jan. 15 (UPI) -- Nobody who favors peace in Turkey should oppose the government's efforts to resolve longstanding issues with the Kurdish minority, the interior minister said.

Turkish Interior Minister Besir Atalay outlined a series of steps the ruling Justice and Development Party would take to find a political solution to Kurdish issues.

Ankara has struggled with rising Kurdish ambitions and years of conflict with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK.

Atalay said the initial goals of the government were to put an end to the terrorist threat and enhance democracy in Turkey, English-language daily Hurriyet reports.

"No one in their right mind or with any sense of a moral compass would stand against these goals," he said.

Ankara in 2009 offered a series of cultural considerations to the Kurdish minority in an effort to allay concerns from the minority group. Long-term goals include an independent human-rights council and conventions on torture.

The government's efforts faced a series of setbacks, however, when Turkish courts banned a pro-Kurdish party from Parliament.

Scores of pro-Kurdish officials were detained in recent weeks, meanwhile, for delivering speeches backing the policies of the PKK.

Kurdish supporters debated how Ankara could advocate democratic reforms in the face of widespread suppression.

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