ANKARA – Hürriyet Daily News
After Tuesday’s tripartite talks in Ankara, Interior Minister Besir Atalay says Turkey wants to see concrete action by Iraq in the fight against the PKK
Turkish Interior Minister Beşir Atalay (R) and Iraqi Minister of State for National Security Shirwan al-Waili speak to the media at a news conference after a security meeting in Ankara.
Progress has been made since establishing a trilateral mechanism involving senior Turkish, Iraqi and U.S. officials to combat the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, but Turkey has more expectations, Interior Minister Beşir Atalay said Tuesday.
A ministerial-level meeting of the trilateral mechanism took place in Ankara and was chaired by Turkey’s Atalay, Iraqi State Minister for National Security Shirwan al-Waili, and deputy commander of Iraq’s multinational force, Steven Hummer.
“Turkey always has expectations. We expect more concrete results,” Atalay told a joint press conference with the Iraqi minister. “We believe that the trilateral mechanism will yield more concrete results,” Atalay said.
He said the progress made in the fight against the PKK since the November 2008 meeting of the mechanism, as well as future steps, were discussed at the meeting. The next committee talks will take place in Baghdad in October, Atalay said.
“From the Iraqi perspective, we are putting weight on the issue and seriously working on it,” al-Waili said. “This is our duty. According to the Iraqi constitution, Iraqi territory cannot be used for attacks against any neighboring country. The implementation of this article is diligently pursued by Iraqi authorities,” he said.
The Iraqi minister said the presence of any element that poses a threat to Turkey was a source of concern for Iraq. “Terror is a threat for both Turkey and Iraq. Our cooperation will continue until the presence of the terrorist organization is ended,” he said.
He made clear that tripartite talks would bear results as long as the work continued and the doors of dialogue were kept open. “I have no doubt that the trilateral mechanism will reach desired results,” al-Waili said.
Makhmour camp on agenda
Differing from what Turkish officials said earlier, the future of a U.N. camp in northern Iraq was discussed during tripartite talks.
Turkey said the camp that houses 13,000 refugees who fled to Iraq in the early 1990s during the clashes between Turkish security forces and the PKK is used by the terrorist group for logistical, rehabilitation and recruitment purposes. Turkey wants the camp to be shut down.
In response to a question, Atalay said without elaborating: “We discussed the Makhmour camp and other issues as a whole. This issue is on our agenda. We are examining. There is a need for more analysis, information exchange and evaluations.”
Turkey demands more than one list
When asked about a PKK list that was requested from Iraqi authorities, Atalay said Turkey had some other requests and lists too. “We are examining all of them. We are diligently working,” he said.
Al-Waili acknowledged that the Turkish side requested more than the list, adding that relevant Iraqi units were working nonstop on the issue, as was the Regional Kurdish Administration in northern Iraq.
On the Turkish government’s Kurdish plan, Atalay said that work was ongoing and that he would soon brief the press about the details. The Iraqi minister declined to comment on the issue, saying that it was a Turkish domestic affair.
In the meantime, an alleged meeting between Turkish officials and Iraqi insurgents became a source of uneasiness for Baghdad. The Iraqi side conveyed its discomfort to Ankara at the tripartite talks.
In Washington last week, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said the Iraqi government found it “shocking” that representatives of the “Iraqi resistance movement” met Turkish officials and at least one U.S. official last spring.
“We, the Iraqi government, were amazed that representatives from the American and Turkish sides met with representatives from those groups,” he was quoted as saying, adding that the insurgent groups “adopt violence and terrorism.”