BRUSSELS, Feb. 21 (UPI) -- Suspected Kurdistan Workers' Party attacks on Turkish newspaper offices in France and Germany are press intimidation, a European Parliament leader says.
Ria Oomen-Ruijten, the EP's rapporteur on Turkey, last weekend condemned the Feb. 15 attacks on the offices of Turkish-language daily Zaman in Paris and Cologne as "attacks against press freedom."
Declaring that "freedom of the press and expression are the core values of European culture," the Dutch parliamentarian -- who is shepherding Turkey's EU accession progress report -- called on France and Germany to carry out an "in-depth" investigation of the incidents, Sunday's Zaman reported.
A masked group of suspected supporters of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, known by its Kurdish initials PKK, entered the Paris offices of Zaman, breaking windows and equipment and threatening employees, authorities said.
On the same day, alleged PKK members firebombed the newspaper's offices on Cologne. German police detained two people on suspected links with the Cologne attack, in which alleged pro-PKK members threw Molotov cocktails at the building.
Dunja Mijatovic, the OSCE representative on freedom of the media, also reacted angrily to last week's violence.
"The attacks on Zaman's editorial offices not only create fear in those directly affected but they also damage media freedom by attempting to silence journalists for their reporting," Mijatovic said.
Calling intimidation of journalists "unacceptable," the OSCE official expressed relief that no one was injured and that the French and German authorities have launched investigations.
Turkish diplomats say they are unhappy, however, with the progress of the French probe.
Turkish Ambassador to France Tahsin Burcuoglu complained of the "negligence of French police" while visiting the site of the firebombing, telling Zaman, "It is clear that the fact that those responsible for this are left unpunished encourages the terrorist organization to stage new attacks.
"The attack today once again proves this. It is naturally the responsibility of the French state to provide peace and security for Turks living in France."
Oomen-Ruijten's harsh words for the PKK came as an encouraging sign for Turkey after she made similar statements about the Kurdish militant group in January while discussing the EP's coming progress report on Turkey's EU accession bid.
After having its first session on the report, the Dutch leader said MEPs were still concerned about the pace of judicial reform in Turkey as well as the need for a civilian constitution -- both of which have long been cited as impediments to Ankara's accession hopes.
But regarding its battle against the PKK, which is fighting for an independent Kurdistan in southern Turkey and northern Iraq, Oomen-Ruijten denounced the group's use of terrorism abroad and blasted it as a criminal gang, the Turkish daily Sabah reported.
"The PKK is a terrorist organization," she said. "This problem does not solely involve Turkey. At the same time it also closely affects Europe, because, the PKK's sources of funds are provided from European Union nations."
Oomen-Ruijten accused PKK members of engaging in "human trafficking, (the) drug trade and arms smuggling" and urged EU members to help Turkey in its "struggle against terrorism."
Also denouncing last week's violence was EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule, whose spokesman said the commission "condemns [the] latest attacks on the offices of a Turkish-language daily in European countries."
The EP is to vote on whether to accept Turkey's progress report this month.