Ankara deflects PKK-Taliban comparison

Jan. 29, 2010 at 4:46 PM

ANKARA, Turkey, Jan. 29 (UPI) -- Ankara deflected criticism for backing a measure to include moderate Taliban in the Afghan plan while cracking down on pro-Kurdish groups on its soil.

The international community backed a measure to include Taliban moderates in the Afghan reconciliation effort, a plan mentioned by Afghan President Hamid Karzai during a visit to Istanbul before the Thursday conference in London.

Political leaders, including Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, came forward Friday with statements of praise for Taliban integration.

Davutoglu, however, faced criticism for Ankara's support for the Afghan initiative while taking a harsh stance on pro-Kurdish groups and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, Turkey's English-language daily Hurriyet reports.

"Such comparisons are not accurate," he said, adding Turkey has not been embroiled in conflict for the past 30 years like Afghanistan.

Ankara in 2009 launched an effort to find a political solution to lingering issues with the Kurdish minority through a series of cultural considerations and amnesty offers.

Davutoglu said that what sets Ankara apart is its embrace of democracy as a reconciliation tool.

"Turkey's biggest power that distinguishes it from other countries in the region is its democracy," he said."There should be no hesitation on that."

Pro-Kurdish groups, however, counter that a court decision to ban a pro-Kurdish party from politics in December puts the democratic initiative in doubt.

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