Dutch Minister Emphasizes Kurdish Question During Turkey Visit

ISTANBUL (Marmara)–During a meeting with Turkish foreign minister Ismail Cem–Dutch foreign minister Khozias van Artsen expressed concern over Turkey’s treatment of minorities–the Istanbul-based Marmara newspaper reported Wednesday.

According to the newspaper–van Artsen’s commen’s have angered his Turkish counterpart.

The Dutch official has also said that the matter of ill-treatment of minorities in Turkey must be addressed immediately after the upcoming European Union summit–scheduled to convene this month in Helsinki.

The Turkish press echoed concerns over the Netherland’s decision to focus its attention on Turkey’s minority issues.

The Dutch minister also commented that Turkey’s strides to end human rights violations were not sufficient.

Van Artsen also expressed his dissatisfaction with the constitutionally powerful position enjoyed by the Turkish army.

"Such favoritism is not acceptable for European countries. This is an issue that Turkey must address in the future," commented the minister.

The Dutch official told Cem that the Netherlands would support Turkey’s petition to join the European Union and added that Cyprus’ membership in the Union must be contingent upon the resolution of that conflict.

In opposing the Dutch foreign minister’s position–the Turkish foreign ministry spokesman Sermet Atacanle said that commen’s made by the "visiting diplomat" were his own opinion and will in no way effect Turkish policy.

"It is unacceptable for Turkey to call its Kurdish population a ‘Kurdish minority,’" said Atacanle.

The foreign ministry spokesman’said that it was imprudent to connect Turkey’s membership in the European Union to any other issue.

"Turkey will not accept such preconditions. Kurds in Turkey do not have minority status," he concluded.

The Turkish treatment of its Kurdish minority has been subject of criticism by numerous countries–including the US. The international community–especially Europe–has urged Turkey to clean up its act.

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