Turkey Threatens Armenia

ANKARA (Agence France Presse)–Turkey warned Armenia of "extremely serious consequences" if it gave refuge to a Kurdish leader whom the Turkish government is seeking to extradite–press reports said Saturday.

Turkish officials asked Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov to convey the warning to Armenian authorities–given that Ankara does not have direct diplomatic relations with the former Soviet republic.

According to several Turkish papers–the Turkish government promised that it would ensure that Armenia was "cut off" from the outside world should it shelter Abdullah Ocalan–leader of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

Ocalan has been at the center of mounting tension between Turkey and Syria–whom Ankara accused of providing the separatist movement with backing.

Under threats of military action from the Turkish government–Syria expelled Ocalan who then fled to Russia–according to Ankara.

Turkish Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz said he had received assurances from his Russian counterpart Yevgeny Primakov that Moscow would not shelter the Kurdish chief.

Russian authorities earlier said they were unaware of Ocalan’s whereabouts.

The head of the Kurdistan National Liberation Front in CIS and Eastern Europe Makhir Valat urged Russia to initiate in the UN a proposal for a peaceful solution to the Kurdistan problem–reported the Interfax news agency.

Russia–a cosponsor of the Middle Eastern peace process–should not distance itself from the Kurdish issue–Valat told a press conference in Moscow Thursday. Valat suggested that Russia invite Ocalan for an official visit.

Furthermore–a representative office of the Front could be opened in Moscow–he said. Such offices function in over 30 states.

A Russian-Kurdish Union should be established to "take joint steps for stabilizing the situation in Kurdistan," he said.

"Ankara expanded its punitive measures in both northern part of Kurdistan in Turkey and its southern part in Iraq in response of Labor Party’s unilateral cease-fire and calls of the international community to start political negotiations," he said.

Valat denied Ocalan’s alleged departure for Armenia from Russia. He is "neither in Armenia–nor in Russia. Ocalan leads the party from a secure place," he said.

Since Ocalan left Syria–Turkey has been accusing Armenia of harboring the Kurdish leader.

Ocalan’s whereabouts are unknown.

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