PKK Rebels Unimpressed By Turkish EU Reform Plan

TUNCELI–Turkey (Reuters)–Kurdish rebels have dismissed Turkey’s plan of reforms to ease European Union membership as a half-hearted document that fails to address what they say are the grievances of some 12 million Kurds.

On Monday Turkey presented its national program of reforms to the EU–outlining a lengthy process of change to usher predominantly Muslim Turkey into the wealthy western bloc.

Duran Kalkan–a senior commander of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) rebel group–told Kurdish satellite television late on Monday that the plan fell far short of the PKK’s deman’s for open recognition of Kurdish cultural rights.

“It’s called a national program but it does not reflect the structure or composition of Turkish society. The Kurdish people are not even named in this program…This is not a program that can really be implemented or one that will change much if it is implemented. It’s not a program of solutions,” Kalkan said.

The PKK says it has abandoned an armed struggle against Turkish security forces for Kurdish autonomy in which more than 30,000 people–most of them Kurds–have died since 1984. It says it now seeks to use political pressure to win cultural rights for Turkey’s Kurds through the peaceful democratic process.

“If the people who made this program think they can create a new Turkey with it–then fine–our party will not be obstructive. But we can comfortably say that such a program will not democratize Turkey or solve the Kurdish problem,” Kalkan said.

Ankara rejects the PKK’s cease-fire as a ploy to help captured rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan avoid a death sentence. It refuses any talks with the rebels–dubbing them “terrorists” and pledging to wipe out any who fail to surrender to authorities.

Turkish law bans education and broadcasting in Kurdish as potentially fueling violent separatist nationalism.

The national program acknowledges the right of citizens to speak languages other than Turkish–but does not specifically mention Kurdish. It ignores European calls for an end to the bans on education and broadcasting.

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