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Published:July 4th, 2007 05:39 EST
Gov't's final word on incursion: NO

Gov't's final word on incursion: NO

By SOP newswire

Turkey's top civil and military officials discuss additional measures in the fight against terrorists. PM Erdoðan dismisses a possible incursion into northern Iraq while the PKK declares a ceasefire
ANKARA – Turkish Daily News

  Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoðan said Tuesday that a cross-border operation into northern Iraq will be a last measure, just hours before a high-level security summit here to discuss additional measures to be taken in the fight against the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).  

  Erdoðan's statement reduced expectations of a decision on an incursion from yesterday's summit, with the military putting pressure on the government to give the necessary authorization since April 12.  

  Meanwhile the PKK declared a ceasefire Tuesday, just hours before the security meeting, the Belgium-based Fýrat news agency reported. The agency said the PKK will continue to defend themselves when attacked by Turkish forces. “We will not carry out attacks other than for self-defense,” the statement noted. “We are clearly saying that if the operations are stopped, the tensions will end.”

  Turkish officials did not comment on the PKK's declaration. But the terror organization's earlier ceasefires were viewed as tactical moves and ignored by the Turkish military and civilian officials.

Security summit discusses measures

  Turkey's top military and civilian authorities came together yesterday to discuss measures to stop the PKK's attacks and to eliminate terrorists inside and outside Turkey. Prime Minister Erdoðan and Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül represented the government while Chief of General Staff Gen. Yaþar Büyükanýt and Land Forces Commander Gen. "lker Baþbuð voiced the military's position.

  The meeting was in progress when the Turkish Daily News went to print.

5,000 terrorists in the country, 500 in Iraq

  Prime Minister Erdoðan hinted at the government's stance during a party meeting yesterday. “There are 500 terrorists in Iraq; there are 5,000 terrorists inside Turkey. Has terrorism inside Turkey ended for us to think about an operation in northern Iraq?” asked Erdoðan while speaking to reporters yesterday. Erdoðan said the figures he gave were not official numbers just examples.

  According to military officials, the number of terrorists in northern Iraq is around 4,500 while 1,000 of them are active in Turkish territory.

Maliki is due in Ankara

  Erdoðan stressed that he will invite Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to Ankara to discuss possible cooperation in the fight against the outlawed PKK terrorists saying, “We have to seek ways to solve all these problems through dialogue [with Iraq]. All the other things mentioned are last to think about and to do.”

  When asked if he was referring to a cross-border operation when saying, “last thing to do”, the Prime Minister did not deny it and replied, “A cross-border operation cannot be conducted loudly. If a request is made, it will be for the government to decide on it.”

Economy or security

  Prime Minister Erdoðan complained that an expectation was created among the people for an incursion after continuous press reports that sparked worries in financial sectors.  “We have to think multi dimensionally, politically, militarily and economically. How all these things will affect our markets? Can you say ‘No, the economy is not important to us but security is?” Erdoðan's words were also seen as a response to Turkey's top business organization TÜS"AD that had earlier stated that security should be a priority.

  Erdoðan also criticized the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) who proposed the government close the Habur border gate between Turkey and Iraq, saying, “Make your proposals to our businessmen in northern Iraq. Let's close Habur. Ok but what's going to happen if we do it? Have we considered our gains and our losses?”

Criticizing retired generals

  Erdoðan also did not hide his unease with the comments by some retired generals on civil-military relations and the fight against terrorism. “Some retired generals are trying to create a negative psychological atmosphere in society against the government by making statements that exceed the limit of respect in their TV commentaries. These are not good things.”

  He also dismissed claims that the government has no regular contacts with the military. “We talk on the phone,” Erdoðan said.

Calling for a common platform

  Erdoðan called on all political parties and nongovernmental organizations to establish a common platform against terrorism. Asked whether he would invite the political parties to discuss terrorism, Erdoðan responded positively but did not give further signs as to what he would do.

Source: USA Turkish Times