Ankara at odds with U.N. over Kurds

Nov. 25, 2009 at 6:30 PM
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ANKARA, Turkey, Nov. 25 (UPI) -- Ankara will not abide by international law when considering the return of Kurds from refugee camps in northern Iran, interior officials said.

Turkish Interior Minister Besir Atalay said Kurds in the Makhmour refugee camp need approval from the Iraqi government before making plans to return to Turkey.

Ankara laid out plans to start accepting Kurdish refugees into Turkey in groups of 300 to 400, "however, we will not grant special additional rights to them," Atalay said.

The United Nations established the camp in 1998 in response to violence in southern Turkey. Ankara disagrees over the refugee status requested for the Kurds, Turkey's English-language daily Today's Zaman reports.

Ankara is embarking on a plan to find a political solution to lingering issues with the Kurdish minority. Its plans involve cultural considerations for Kurds and modest amnesty offers for rebels with the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK.

Intelligence officials from Turkey spoke recently with Massoud Barzani, president of the Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq, to urge PKK members to surrender.

Among the high-ranking members expected to turn themselves over are Osman Abdullah, the brother of imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan, and as many as 100 other Kurdish separatists.

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