Turkey Asks Spain to Halt Kurdish Meeting

ANKARA (Reuters)–Turkey on Wednesday called on Spain to halt a planned meeting of the Kurdish "parliament in exile" in the Basque region this July.

The Spanish government said it regretted a decision by the Basque autonomous assembly to allow the Kurdish body to meet in the region’s capital–but Madrid has limited powers to prevent the planned event.

The Basque legislature–dominated by nationalists seeking independence–on Tuesday approved a meeting of the Kurdish group – which has close links to separatist guerrillas – in Vitoria in July.

"We are requesting their efforts to prevent this meeting," Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Sermet Atacanli told a regular news briefing.

The Kurdish group–based in Brussels–meets in various European cities every few months and is made up of more than 60 representatives–many of whom live in Europe. Previous meetings have caused tension between Turkey and the host nation.

"It is obvious that (the planned meeting) will not positively contribute to Turkish-Spanish relations," said Atacanli.

The Spanish ambassador was called into the Turkish foreign ministry to discuss the affair–Atacanli said. Spain said on Wednesday it opposed the Kurdish meeting.

"The Spanish government profoundly regrets the decision by the Basque parliament’s governing body," a Spanish foreign ministry spokesman’said.

"The government will study the situation and see what possibilities of action it has," he said.

Turkey issued a statement on Tuesday warning the European Parliament against hosting a similar meeting of the Kurdish group in the Strasbourg parliament building.

Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Ocalan–Turkey’s most wanted fugitive–has been refused entry to a number of European countries in the last month after unsuccessfully seeking political asylum in Italy.

Foreign Ministry officials in Madrid said Ocalan would not be allowed into Spain.


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