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February 23, 1999


The aftermath of Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan's arrest continued to trigger extensive comment from all corners of the globe, with many editorialists looking at the repercussions for Turkey, Greece, the EU, Israel and the U.S. in a preliminary effort to tally the "winners and losers." According to Ankara's mass-appeal Sabah, "Europe has lost vis-a-vis America, and Greece has lost vis-a-vis Turkey." Amid reports that Ocalan confessed that Athens had aided his rebel forces, several saw Greece--where three top ministers were forced to resign--as the most obvious loser. Arguing that "Greece has brought this catastrophe on its own head," London's conservative Times claimed, "Greece now stands accused of the very kind of backing for terrorism that it would be swift to denounce from any fellow EU member." Some European media agreed with an Ankara daily that the case exposed "Europe's double standard." "If there is a real sensitivity toward a fair trial," the paper asked, "why did the Europeans not use this chance while Ocalan was knocking on every door in Europe?" Others, such as Tel Aviv's mass-appeal Maariv, judged that the case cast a negative light on the West, and particularly the U.S., by highlighting "hypocrisy" on its part: "Western democracies have been picking the national injustices they want to redress rather arbitrarily. The Palestinians [and] Albanians...appear to appeal to the Americans more than entire Kurd villages wiped out in Turkey or Iraq." Athens' center-left Eleftherotypia blamed the U.S. for, in its view, leading the Greek government into one of the greatest blunders in its history. Viewing Turkey as a "loser in all circumstances," a Cairo writer held, "If they [execute] Ocalan, human rights groups will tear them to pieces. If not...they will lose prestige before their people." Additional themes follow:

SKEPTICISM ABOUT TURKISH JUSTICE: Commentators remained skeptical about Ocalan's receiving a fair trial in Turkey, given that the country's "legal system leaves a lot to be desired." Pointing to Turkey's continued military offensive in the Kurdish region, many also doubted whether the country was ready to "offer the Kurds a fair deal." Vienna's conservative Die Presse voiced concern that "Ankara is gambling away its big chance of showing, in an hour of victory, that it is a state governed by the rule of law and ready to be part of the EU."

'KURDISH AUTONOMY MOVEMENT AT A CROSSROADS': Some media voices foresaw that the Kurdish autonomy movement is at a crossroads, with the outcome somewhat dependent on how the Turkish government handles the Ocalan case and the Kurdish issue writ large. An Indian writer predicted that Ocalan's arrest may have dealt a fatal blow to the PKK, since "with Ocalan out of the way, Ankara may now go on a ruthless offensive against PKK fighters and their civilian supporters." By contrast, an Amman daily held, "Ocalan's arrest will not end the Kurdish problem, but will stir it even more and his execution...will make him a national hero."

A LESSON IN REALPOLITIK: Several argued that Ocalan was "a sacrificial lamb" who made the mistake of not appreciating the shifting "balance of powers involving Syria, Turkey and Greece" and "the international political equations in the region." Papers in Italy, Croatia, Malta, Egypt, Jordan, China, South Korea, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Argentina found common cause with Rome's centrist Il Messaggero, which stressed, "Ocalan's head was provided in order to guarantee Turkey's loyalty toward Clinton's policy...against Saddam."

This survey is based on 61 reports from 28 countries, February 18 - 23.

EDITOR: Katherine Starr

To Go Directly To Quotes By Region, Click Below

|  EUROPE  |    |  MIDDLE EAST  |    |  EAST ASIA AND THE PACIFIC  |    |  SOUTH ASIA  |    |  AFRICA  |   




TURKEY: "Possible Difficulties At The Ocalan Trial"

Sedat Ergin commented in mass-appeal Hurriyet (2/23): "The court which will try terrorist Ocalan has already become the agenda issue regarding Turkey's relations with the West. Western governments voice their expectations for a fair trial, as well as their hope that Turkey will allow foreign observers in the judiciary process. The latter is against Turkish law. However, Westerners do not see any reason for not asking for something which the vast majority of their legal systems do not permit, either. The real difficulty, in fact, is that by recognizing the authority of the European Court of Human Rights, Turkey belongs to the European legal system.... There is a possibility that Ocalan, who has the thickest crime file, will end up considered [by the European Court] as unjustly treated just because of the structure of the state security courts. Turkey captured Ocalan and brought him to justice. And it also has an obligation to pursue the trial within the European legal system."

"Winners And Losers"

Cengiz Candar front-paged this editorial in mass-appeal Sabah (2/23): "Some conclusions can be drawn after Ocalan's apprehension. Europe has lost vis-a-vis America, and Greece has lost vis-a-vis Turkey. When you read the European press, you may see the sentiment on Ocalan, and the effort to monitor Turkey on legal matters. If there is real European sensitivity toward a fair trial, why did the Europeans not use this chance while Ocalan was knocking on every door in Europe? What is on view once again is Europe's double standard. As a matter of fact, in the way it has handled Ocalan, Europe has also lost its moral superiority. Greece, a member of the EU, harbored Ocalan, and the Greek Cypriot administration, a candidate member of the EU, provided him a passport. Germany withdrew the arrest warrant for Ocalan.... The United States has gained an enhanced position, as well as strategic superiority, because of the role it played and the stance it took on the Ocalan affair.... Turkey has gained a chance to treat the Kurdish issue free from complexities."

"Days Of Tension With Greece Beginning"

Mehmet Y. Yilmaz held in intellectual Radikal (2/23): "Greece has to make a decision very quickly: Either it will decrease its support for the terrorist organization, or it will favor the PKK against Turkey. It is unlikely to see any such development in Greece in the short run. Turkey stands at the beginning of a long journey. Turkey should use diplomatic channels against Greece in every international platform, and repeatedly tell the fact to the world that Greece is supporting and harboring a terrorist organization. The Turkish president's speech in Manila also underlined the Turkey's legitimate right of self-defense. This gives a hint that tension may escalate (with Greece), as bad as the one we have gone through with Syria."

"Post-Apo Talk In The U.S."

Yasemin Congar wrote in mass-appeal Milliyet (2/22): "The U.S. stance on the Kurdish issue has been consistent. The Clinton administration supports Turkey's fight against terrorism, [while at the same time] encouraging democratization and human rights. Supporting one of them is not an indication the other one is being overlooked. The official Turkish view still does not appreciate the consistency of American policy. When the United States pledges support for terrorism, the answer is, 'that's fine.' But when it issues a warning against the closure of (pro-Kurdish political party) HADEP, the reaction is, 'how dare you.' Since the capture of Ocalan, everybody in Washington, from the administration to the opinion-makers, is trying to overcome Turkey's dilemma on this issue.

"In particular, U.S. diplomats are trying to find the answer to the following question: What should we do to help Turkey not miss an historic opportunity with the capture of Ocalan?"

"European Skepticism Unwarranted"

Nezih Demirkent wrote in opinion-maker Dunya (2/22): "Everybody is now focusing on Ocalan's trial. There is skepticism about the functioning of the state security court. There is nothing to worry about regarding trial procedures. The trial will be fair, and justice will give its verdict without any feelings of a vendetta. The Ocalan trial should not be an issue any longer. Instead, the trial of Greece should come to the agenda.... It is odd enough to see that a Greek government that supports terrorism is still in power. More pathetically, Greece is part of the EU. The Council of Europe has condemned terrorism. But if Greece will not be held responsible for what it did, how is Europe going to fight terrorism?"

"We Should Sue Greece"

Hasan Unal commented in religious/intellectual Zaman (2/22): "Greece established a close and direct relation with a terrorist, even provided a false passport and hosted him as a member of NATO and the EU. All of these should be serious felonies. However, it would be really optimistic to believe that Europeans would treat Greece according to what it's done. At this point Turkey has been given a serious trump card. We should work on a Greece file, documenting the Greek government's involvement with a terrorist. Such a file should be supported with documents regarding PKK camps in Greece, as well as regarding support and assistance from the Greek diplomatic missions.... All these files should be given to the European Court of Human Rights in order to sue Greece."

"The Expected Finale"

Hasan Unal argued in religious/intellectual Zaman (2/19): "The PKK movement was an undeclared war against Turkey by foreign countries, and the organization went into a dissolving process after the foreign connections were cut one by one. It is very wrong to characterize Kurdish-origin people with a European-style ethnic mentality.... It is absolutely a gross shame for Greece, which had denied its collaboration with PKK, and then was caught red-handed in Kenya. It is quite a wonder how Greece will explain to NATO and other international platforms all these dirty connections. EU member countries' reaction to Greece will be a litmus test of their sincerity on terrorism and human rights."

"Dignified, Fair And Far-Sighted"

Server Tanilli wrote in intellectual/opinion maker Cumhuriyet (2/19): "East and southeast Turkey should be developed by a state-led program.... There will be new Ocalans if the development does not succeed. We should also realize that the problem in the southeast does not have only economic and social aspects. Most of the people living there are Kurds. Although we share the same religion, they have a different language and culture, a different identity. We should respect these differences; moreover, we should help them develop. Nothing can be achieved by prohibitions. Throughout history, we have shared and enjoyed the same destiny with Kurds, and that will remain a fact."

GREECE: "Serving The Foreign Factor"

Pro-New Democracy Party papers, Eleftheros Typos and Vrathyni, (2/19) urged President Stephanopoulos to resign. Typos said that the political [fallout] is too much for Stephanopoulos to allow the Simitis government to stay in power, citing, among other things, the fact that a "numbed Ocalan will sign a statement according to which he and Greece have worked against the United States and Turkey."

Therefore, according to the paper, the country needs elections now, "otherwise, the Turks will take advantage of Simitis in the harshest manner." Eleftheros Typos' lead editorial held: "By placing pro-American...George Papandreou in Thodoros Pangalos' position [of foreign minister], Mr. Simitis has sent the message that he will continue serving the foreign factor faithfully. Imia, Madrid, S-300s missiles, Ocalan. We shall see what else the United States and Turkey will impose on us."

"The U.S.' Dark Role"

Center-left Eleftherotypia's (2/19) diplomatic editor Kyra Adam remarked that either through U.S. Ambassador Burns or through her own letters to [ex-Foreign Minister] Pangalos, Secretary of State Albright kept exerting pressure on the Greek government to hand over Ocalan. Adam ruled out the possibility of the United States being unaware that Ocalan was sent to "American-dominated Kenya." She added: "Athens made a wrong assessment when it believed, through guarantees by the superpower, that its disengagement would be smooth if Ocalan was arrested in a foreign country, away from Greece." The paper's back-page political column called Ms. Albright "persona non grata," as it is well-known among "diplomatic circles" that Washington "through Madeleine exerted unbearable pressure (others say the secretary resorted to raw blackmail) on the Greek government to hand over Ocalan." The column said that "the Greek society" does not need "classified documents" in order to understand what has happened, and blamed Ms. Albright for leading the Greek government into one of the greatest blunders of its history.

"Fallout From The Ocalan Arrest"

Athens' afternoon electronic and print media (2/18) focused on the cabinet reshuffle, i.e., the resignation of the ministers of foreign affairs, internal affairs and public order requested by the prime minister in the wake of the Ocalan arrest. Each outgoing minister gave his own press conference and all indicated that Prime Minister Simitis was completely aware of the developments of the 15 past days, including Ocalan's comings and goings to Greece and Kenya. Several media did not fail to note that Ocalan was arrested owing to CIA-Mossad cooperation. A few added the FBI. On the latter, the media reprinted a Washington Post story, which said that the FBI tipped the Turkish secret service MIT, having tapped Ocalan's mobile phone. Pro-New Democracy Party Eleftheros Typos said that Ocalan was arrested following cooperation among CIA and Kenyan agents. Eleftheros Typos chief diplomatic editor George Harvalias held that Ocalan's arrest was a matter of course, following Turkish threats against Greece that it would declare a war and pressures against Kenya. In its lead editorial the paper argued, "Ocalan will go through a brutal treatment and shortly will sign a series of scenarios, dictated to him by Turkey and the United States."

BRITAIN: "Greece Fed Weapons To Kurd Rebels"

The centrist Independent observed (2/23): "It was exactly the ammunition Turkey's government wanted in its war of words with Greece over the capture of Abdullah Ocalan. A Turkish newspaper, Hurriyet, said he had told interrogators Greece supplied his Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK) with arms. The claim may embarrass the EU, which yesterday called on Turkey to give Mr. Ocalan a fair trial and to let international observers attend, as Greece is an EU member."

"Turkey Warns EU Over Kurds' Rights"

The centrist Independent noted (2/22): "Turkey issued a warning to European governments to stay out of its dealings with its Kurdish minority yesterday. It was the first sign of Turkish fears that the capture last week of Abdullah Ocalan...may focus international attention on Turkey's Kurds. Greece is seeking to bring Mr. Ocalan's arrest before a meeting of EU foreign ministers today."

"A Devastating Impact On Greece"

The conservative Times judged (2/19): "Nowhere has the Ocalan affair had a more devastating impact than in Greece.... Greece has brought this catastrophe on its own head. Its support for Ocalan is a result of short-sighted policies that are guided more by emotion than reason.... Suspicion of Turkey and hostility to whatever government holds office in Ankara have long been the main issues determining policy in Athens.... Greece now stands accused of the very kind of backing for terrorism that it would be swift to denounce from any fellow EU member."

"The Tragedy Of The Kurds"

The independent weekly Economist editorialized (2/19): "To listen to Turkey's politicians and to read its press, you would think that, with Ocalan behind bars, the civil all but over; that the Kurds have been definitively squashed; and that successive Turkish governments' misguided policy of denying the Kurds the right to express, however peacefully, a desire for some kind of self-government has been wondrously vindicated. Not true, any of it. A lasting peace can be forged only if the Kurds, especially but not only in Turkey, are given the fair deal that has so far been denied them. In its moment of seeming triumph, the Turkish government would be wise to offer such a deal. Then Turks and Kurds alike could look forward to a better future. Turkey should seize the chance for compromise, not crowing.... Outsiders can help. The Turkish problem has now, de facto, been internationalized. Taking matters further, the EU, with American backing, could offer a forum for Turks and Kurds to seek a compromise involving Kurdish self-rule."

FRANCE: "The Ocalan Test For Turkey"

Bruno Frappat opined in Catholic La Croix (2/19): "Any compromise on the Kurdish issue will require that Ocalan's treatment fit with the democratic and European aspirations of Turkey. The Turkish government will need to organize a fair and just trial, and be more welcoming toward Ocalan's lawyers.... The least that can be said for the moment is that the necessary guarantees are not yet apparent. International pressure on Turkey is needed, particularly from Europe. The Kurdish people of Turkey deserve the same attention as ethnic Albanians of Kosovo."

"History's Forgotten People"

Pierre Beylau declared in right-of-center weekly Le Point (2/19): "The West is somewhat hypocritical on the Kurdish issue. The United States has shown its satisfaction in the capture of Ocalan by its Turkish ally, but does not hesitate to give its support to the Iraqi Kurds against Baghdad."

GERMANY: "Ocalan Is No Door Opener"

Nikolaus Blome wrote this editorial in right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin (2/23): "So far the undeclared war between the Turkish state and the Kurdish minority has been considered the greatest obstacle for Ankara's accession to the EU...but, since [Ocalan's capture]...[the war] has all of a sudden seemed to turn into a door opener (for Turkey's accession to the EU). We are now frequently hearing that, if the Turkish government is able to organize a trial according to the rule of law against Ocalan, then the country will have proved that it is democratic and that all other problems can then be discussed. But this is absurd.... The Kurdish conflict cannot be resolved with a court ruling anyway. On the contrary, for a long time after the ruling, this war will become even bloodier and more reckless, and it will possibly be waged in European cities, too."

"Turkey's Unacceptable Conduct"

Centrist Mitteldeutsche Zeitung of Halle asserted (2/19): "In order to prove that Turkey thinks differently when the issues are the rule of law, democracy and human rights, the country continued its military offensive in the Kurdish region and arrested pro-Kurdish politicians en masse. The fact that the Ankara government plays down the Kurdish conflict as a 'terrorism problem' and that the military dictates nothing new. But the latest events reveal that this situation will hardly change in the foreseeable future. Ankara is primarily embarrassing for EU states. All those who have always warned against the acceptance of Turkey in the EU will now see their position confirmed."

"The Second Triumph Of Turkey"

Centrist Der Tagesspiegel of Berlin commented (2/18): "Turkey can laugh up its sleeves. Without European assistance, it arrested the long wanted PKK leader and brought him to Turkey. The violent activities of Ocalan's supporters in Germany have resulted in a fierce debate about internal security and deportations, and nobody speaks any longer of the justified demands of the Kurds. And now, thanks to enemy number one, the government of arch-enemy Greece is in trouble, too."

"Turkey's EU Aspirations"

Right-of-center Mindener Tagblatt pointed out (2/18): "Turkey has been trying for a long time to be accepted in the EU. A show trial (against Ocalan) will not bring the country any step closer to this goal. However, a trial according to the rule of law would offer Turkey a chance. This would be particularly true if the NATO member would not only try terrorist Ocalan but would also seriously try to resolve the Kurdish problem. The Turkish attempts for accession to the EU should have much greater chance then to be realized. Instead of sending soldiers and tanks to Southeast Anatolia, the Ocalan trial should be accompanied by economic assistance for Turkey's poor house."

ITALY: "EU Takes Action"

Centrist, top-circulation Corriere della Sera filed this piece from Istanbul (2/23): "'A fair trial, with international observers and without a death sentence.' Europe mobilizes for Ocalan and invites Ankara to find a political solution to the Kurdish crisis. It is the first official initiative that the EU foreign ministers have taken on the PKK leader.... But Ankara, which already told the Europeans not to interfere in its domestics affairs, indirectly replies. And it attacks Greece."

"Europe Cannot Still Just Be Watching"

Pietro Salvago observed in Rome's centrist Il Messaggero (2/21): "The PKK leader has uncovered the contradictions and ambiguity of Europe, which is stuttering before the United States and the Clinton-Albright policy in the Middle East.... The Kurdish cause shows the black hole of Western diplomacy.... It is not credible that Turkish intelligence was able to manage (Ocalan's) arrest without the contribution of two such allies as Israel and the United States.... After King Hussein's death, Netanyahu counts a lot on Turkish support to maintain order in the region...and the CIA's involvement was quite expected too." Salvago also speculated that the United States must settle its accounts with Ankara and that Ocalan's head was provided in order to guarantee Turkey's loyalty toward Clinton's policy...against Saddam.... "However, the Turkish position is complex...[since] the entrance ticket into Europe requires transparency and institutional security."

RUSSIA: "Dialogue Impossible"

Reformist weekly Moskovskiye Novosti (# 7, 2/23) published a commentary by Mikhail Karpov: "Even though Turkish Prime Minister Ecevit believes that Ocalan's arrest is a heavy blow to terrorism, that there is a fight going on inside the KPP for leadership and that unrest won't last long, it would be too optimistic to think that Kurdish radicals will quiet down soon. The prime minister, judging by his latest moves, realizes that using stark violence is no answer to the problem."

"Europe Stung To The Quick"

Reformist Vremya-MN (2/19) had this by Natalya Yermoshkina in Paris: "U.S. special services having 'aided' the Turks has certainly wounded the pride of Europe, which has more cause now to question its own 'independence' and competence."

"Sacred Cows Among States"

Yuri Tyssovsky judged in reformist, business-oriented weekly VEK (# 7, 2/19): "Turkey treats Kurds exactly as Israel treats Palestinians. The charges leveled at the Yugoslavs during a war in the Balkans recently and at Serbs in Kosovo now might just as well be leveled at the Turks. But because of the double-standard syndrome, imposed from overseas, some countries feel like sacred cows, free to walk anywhere they want."

AUSTRIA: "Turkey's Big Chance"

In Conservative Die Presse, Gerhard Bitzan concluded (2/19): "Ankara is gambling away its big chance of showing, in the hour of victory, that it is a state governed by the rule of law and ready to be a part of the EU. There won't be a fair trial against Ocalan.... Now the Turkish legal system can quench its thirst for revenge. In the Ocalan case, Turkey would still have the opportunity to furnish proof of its democratic maturity. From a country that is a NATO member and wants to belong to the EU, one has to be able to expect that it will grant a fair trial even to a sworn enemy and that it respects at least the most elementary rights of the Kurds. Otherwise, it is knocking on Europe's doors in vain."

BELGIUM: "Turkey's Big Catch"

Foreign affairs writer Marc Van de Weyer commented in conservative Catholic Het Belang van Limburg (2/19): "The manner in which Turkey is handling its big catch may flare up the fire of violence and counter-violence. No matter what, a fair trial will also be a political trial. The horrible violence of the PKK cannot be judged without taking into account the violence by the Turkish army and the oppression of the whole Kurdish non-violent struggle for self-determination. The West must see to it that the trial of Ocalan is fair. Turkey has celebrated its moment of triumph. Now, it should, belatedly, start to show generosity to its Kurdish population."

BULGARIA: "The Ocalan Trap"

Largest circulation Trud commented (2/19): "Athens seems to be the biggest loser of all. It is absolutely clear now that it has lost the Kurds' trust. Even potential supporters of the Kurdish cause will not believe the Greeks again. Does Turkey benefit from the capture of Public Enemy #1? It would seem so at first glance. Ankara hoped that with the arrest, the Ocalan-led PKK would split up. This is, however highly questionable. It may boomerang and consolidate the Kurds all over the world. Not to mention the fact that Europe will follow closely Turkey's treatment of Ocalan and any deviation from the democratic norms will only distance Ankara from the Old Continent."

CROATIA: "Ocalan Trapped As An Amateur"

Columnist Fran Visnar remarked in government-controlled Vjesnik (2/18): "The arrest of Kurdish rebel leader Ocalan is indisputably one of the most spectacular intelligence operations in the 1990s, together with all accompanying political and diplomatic consequences. Ocalan's abduction is a heavy blow to the PKK.... Ocalan ran into a trap--that the Americans and Israelis knew about--like an amateur." Visnar gave Turkish intelligence its due, however, noting how it was they who nabbed Ocalan and who now "hold all the aces."

DENMARK: "European Anxiety"

Center-right Berlingske Tidende opined (2/21): "A lot of anxiety has been expressed in Europe concerning the fact that Ocalan may not get a fair trial. But before we get too excited, it should be remembered that several European countries had the opportunity to detain Ocalan. We could have tried him before an international court, or extradited him to Turkey on the basis that his legal rights would be respected."

"After Ocalan"

Center-left Aktuelt held (2/19): "The coming trial...might prove to be an unprecedented opportunity for the Kurds to seek a political dialogue with Turkey without the shadow of the PKK leader and his acts of terrorism looming over the negotiations. They have just claims on justice. And although Turkey's Western allies could have helped both Turkey and the Kurds by taking Ocalan in, they may still be of use by contributing to a reconciliation in the Turkish-Kurdish tragedy."

"The Turkish Reality"

Right-of-center Berlingske Tidende averred (2/19): "Perhaps it would be a good idea for once to ignore the left-wing cry-babies and focus on the Turkish reality: Turkish democracy works; Turks and Kurds in general live very well together, and more than 100 Kurds are members of the Turkish parliament. Turkey has a right and a duty to defend itself on behalf of its entire population--lately manifested by the arrest of Ocalan, followed by the military intervention in Northern Iraq, which is outside of the control of the Baghdad regime and hosts a number of PKK bases."

HUNGARY: "Ocalan Arrest Leaves Bad Taste"

Second-largest circulation Nepszava carries an op piece by foreign affairs writer Laszlo Kasza (2/19): "Despite the international happiness and satisfaction over Ocalan's arrest the story still leaves a bad taste.... First of all because of the behavior of [some] governments.... The United States for instance is drawing a strange kind of demarcation line separating the Kurds living in Turkey and in Iraq: Those in Turkey are terrorists (just because they are fighting against the NATO member Turkish government?), those in Iraq are freedom fighters (just because they have rebelled against Washington's number one enemy, Hussein?).... Others: the Italians, Germans, Dutch, Greeks and also the Russians could have--in line with international legal codes--arrested [Ocalan] a long time ago, but...they did not act.... No solution can be expected until the Turkish government starts discussions about the Kurds' autonomy. But [for now] the chance of this is small in a Turkey where the generals go on celebrating their secret service's success and where the local press is allowing that the capture of Ocalan has solved all the country's problems."

MALTA: "The Changing Face Of Terrorism"

The English-language, independent weekly People argued (2/21): "Now I am not advocating terrorism, but the way the Kurds have been treated leaves much to be desired. The United States, in particular, has a lot to answer for. They were not exactly on the ball when Saddam opted for outright genocide of this people in Iraq. And the United States is giving its full support to Turkey. Turkey realizes that the United States does not want to lose its base in this eastern part of the Mediterranean and will play its cards accordingly."

SPAIN: "The Price Greece Paid For Helping Ocalan"

Barcelona's centrist La Vanguardia opined (2/19): "The bizarre case of Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan...has claimed its first political victims in the persons of three Greek cabinet members.... Ocalan's case has betrayed the involvement of Greece which did not dare grant him political asylum for fear of further complicating its difficult relations with Turkey, but which did indeed provide assistance to a terrorist leader who gave Ankara headaches for over a decade. Now Turkey appears to have killed two birds with one stone: It has relieved its headache with Ocalan's capture, while at the same time engendering a governmental crisis in Greece. For its part, Greece can only hope that Ocalan's trial, in the absence of due process and legal counsel for the accused, will reflect badly on Turkey."

"Ocalan: Opportunity For Turkey"

Liberal El Pais urged (2/19): "Ocalan's detention represents a crossroads for Turkey. Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit, a vehement defender of human rights, is being given an opportunity to put his principles into practice. The terrorist leader's trial should lead to making amends for historical wrongs rather than reopening old wounds. Turkey's treatment of its Kurdish minority undermines its democratic legitimacy and jeopardizes its aspirations for admission into the EU. The EU...needs to make all this clear to Turkey."


ISRAEL: "Pointless Friction"

Conservative pundit Shmuel Schnitzer opined in mass-aooeal, pluralist Maariv (2/23): "The problem of the Kurds is that they have not managed to get the West to sympathize with their cause. Western democracies have been picking the national injustices they want to redress rather arbitrarily. The Palestinians, Albanians and Chinese dissidents appear to appeal to the Americans more than entire (Kurd) villages wiped out in Turkey or Iraq.... The Kurds could use to their advantage the good ties Israel has with the United States.... But first they must stop looking for trouble with Israel over imaginary allegations and start seeking the sympathy of the Israelis and the Jews. Only then we may be able to help them capture the attention of the world and, ultimately, secure their rights."

"Friendly Warnings"

The independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (2/21): "Turkey's heavy-handed attempts to misuse its strategic alliance and draw Israel into its personal quarrels with Kurds--or Syrians or Cypriots or anyone else--must cease.... It is clearly in Turkey's interest to maintain in place any wedge driven between the Kurds and Israel, and to foster their suspicions in the Ocalan affair.... Friends may be friends, but the enemies of our friends are not necessarily our enemies, despite that Middle Eastern lore. The government must make it clear that Israel needs no warnings, friendly or otherwise, from Ankara or anywhere else."

"Victory Against Terrorism"

The independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (2/19): "The wave of Kurdish attacks on Kenyan and Greek missions in Europe, as well as the Israeli Consulate, is an extension of the campaign of terror waged by the PKK for many years.... Sympathy for the Kurdish people, one of the largest and most culturally distinct stateless peoples in the world today, should not be confused with support for the PKK, whose ruthlessness is undisputed. The recent capture of PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan in Kenya is a victory against terrorism."

"The Kurds Are Not Israel's Enemy"

Independent Haaretz argued (2/19): "The Ocalan affair in general, and this incident in particular, can teach us a great deal about the narrow and very dangerous line that Israel walks in its ties with Turkey. There is no doubt that the military alliance with Turkey is one of the most important Israel has ever signed with any country.... Turkey expects Israel to see eye-to-eye with its policy on the Kurdish matter.... It considers the Kurds a strategic threat that could topple the country and it expects Israel to understand this. In the past, Israel has had very good ties with the Kurds and has never considered them an enemy. Although these ties have dwindled over the years, today, too, most Kurds consider Israel among their friends. Consequently, Israel must make a very sharp distinction between Turkey's war with what it defines as a terrorist organization, and its ideological and cultural struggle with the Kurdish people. In the aftermath of the tragic incident in Berlin, this distinction must now be expressed openly and publicly in such a manner to make it clear to the Kurds that Israel is still their friend."

EGYPT: "The Stupid, The Devilish And The Liar"

Hassan Ragab commented in pro-government Al Akhbar (2/23): "Arresting Ocalan will only ignite the revolutionary fire more. What has been happening within and outside of Turkey is proof that resistance will be stronger and broader. This stupid Turkish act has succeeded in making the Kurdish problem an international issue. This will postpone Turkey's joining the EU. If they [execute] Ocalan, human rights groups will tear them to pieces. If they do not send him to him death after international pressure, they will lose prestige before their people. They are losers in all circumstances. The devil in this process has been the corrupt world cop, which sponsored the kidnapping operation. The United States pressured Syria and Italy to throw Ocalan out, and agreed with Greeks and Kenyans on the kidnapping scenario. Insolently, they [Americans] announced their satisfaction with Ocalan's arrest. Is the United States not the one who encouraged Kurds to rebel against the Iraqi regime at first? The third party was Netanyahu, the liar. When do we get rid of this epidemic hitting humanity, which comprises the stupid, the devilish and the liar?"

"The New World Order Against Ocalan"

Abdel Azim Hammad observed in pro-government Al Ahram (2/22): "Ocalan did not find an antagonistic camp against the United States where he could seek refuge, as was the case during the Cold War. The main factor in this international process of collaboration against Ocalan is nothing but the new world order, the sponsor of globalization."

"Ocalan Swam Against Current Of New International Order"

Ibrahim Nafie, editor-in-chief of pro-government Al Ahram, held (2/21): "Ocalan's failure to come to terms with the rapid developments in international relations since the demise of the USSR may be the main reason for his fall into the hands of the Turkish government. It has become too late for his party to shift to peaceful action and find itself a place on the new map of international relations. The PLO, [by contrast], realized the failure of depending on the past. The countries that helped him in the past have started to make peace with the new world.

"He did not ask himself why Turkey has suddenly decided to launch war on Syria because he was present there. He did not ask why Russia, the friend of yesterday, refused to give him political asylum, why Italy and all EU panicked because of his presence in Italy, despite the conflict between EU and Turkey over human rights.... Truly, he was swimming against the current [and] the current was much stronger."

JORDAN: "Ocalan's Grave Mistake"

Semi-government, influential Al-Ray featured this analysis (2/21): "Had Ocalan realized the factors governing current world affairs and had he understood well the balance of powers involving Syria, Turkey and Greece, he would have handled matters in a different way, particularly after the collapse of the Soviet Union and end of the Cold War. He would not have placed all his eggs in the Syrian basket. He would have realized that it is better for him and his people, who have suffered historical injustice, to stop their guerrilla fighting and to change his party into a people's movement that struggles for the legitimate rights of the Kurds in peaceful and democratic ways. Ocalan did not do this and thus stayed captive to the illusion of never-ending regional struggles.... Now that this is over, Turkey must not be happy with this illusory victory. Ocalan's arrest will not end the Kurdish problem, but will stir it even more, and his execution--if Turkey is stupid enough to do that--will make him a national hero."

"Legitimate Right To Self-Defense"

Jawad Bashiti had this op-ed in independent, mass-appeal Al-Arab Al-Yawm (2/20): "The United States shamelessly claimed that Turkey's aggression into northern Iraq marks Turkey's legitimate right to self-defense. The Turkish Kurds' right to political freedom and the resulting violence and limited terrorism are considered a violation of Turkey's sovereign rights and a serious threat to its national security. But doesn't Iraq have the right to protect its own sovereignty and territorial unity from Turkey's frequent violations and incursions? By the same American standards, wouldn't Iraq have the right, under the pretext of the right to self-defense, to send its troops outside Iraqi territories to where U.S. and British warplanes are being launched to attack Iraq?"


JAPAN: "World Needs Stability In Turkey"

An editorial in moderate Tokyo Shimbun observed (2/19): "Turkey has been trying to restrict or obliterate the Kurdish language and culture. Doesn't this assimilation policy toward the Kurdish people run counter to Turkey's goal of achieving Europeanization? The world community must again realize the importance of stability in Turkey, which straddles the Asian and European continents. an important NATO country, linking Europe and the Islamic world. We hope the United States and European countries will join hands to dissuade Turkey from intensifying the crackdown on the Kurds or executing Ocalan."

"Kurdish Problem Becomes An International Issue"

Business-oriented Nihon Keizai editorialized (2/19): "Although Turkey is trying to resolve the Ocalan issue domestically, it has become a focal point of international politics involving the United States and European countries. Turkey has rejected the entry of lawyers for Ocalan from Europe into the country or the dispatch of European observers (to the country) to monitor his trial. Although Ankara is apparently trying to avoid foreign interference in the Kurdish problem, it has already become an international political issue."

CHINA: "Ocalan's Arrest, A Knotty Problem For World"

Lao Qiu said in Beijing Youth Daily (Beijing Qingnianbao, 2/19): "Ocalan has upset the entire world. The United States and Israel are anxious to extricate themselves from the Ocalan case. The Americans are now between a rock and a hard place. On one hand, they need Turkish air bases to attack Iraq. On the other, the United States still intends to recruit Kurds to overthrow Saddam Hussein."

INDONESIA: "Ocalan's Arrest And The Tragic, Winding Kurdish Road"

Leading independent Kompas pointed out (2/19): "Despite his weaknesses, Ocalan remains in many Kurdish hearts. The wave of protests against his arrest both in Europe and other parts of the world proved that.... Now that their leader has been captured by Turkey, is the dream [of an independent Kurdish state] out of reach? On the other side, despite its success in capturing the leader they call 'Satan,' Turkey faces a challenging future, especially with regard to its treatment of the Kurds. The problem is that there are Kurds in many areas and countries, so arresting Ocalan will not dissipate the [Kurdish] dream of an independent nation."

"Turkish Hegemony, Ocalan And The Kurdish Struggle"

Independent afternoon Suara Pembaruan asserted (2/18): "Ocalan's arrest will potentially create a tougher fight for the 13,000-odd members of the Kurdish separatist militia and their proponents.... It will be...difficult to stifle ethnic Kurd aspirations for freedom from Turkish hegemony."

SOUTH KOREA: "Ocalan, A Sacrificial Lamb In U.S.-Russia Oil War"

Ryu Jae-hoon opined of independent Hankyoreh Shinmun (2/21): "The fate of Ocalan is clear testimony to the suffering the Kurds are being put through.... Their interests have been mostly abandoned by the powers involved. Even Russia, which has been sympathetic toward them, had to reject Ocalan's request for political asylum because of its oil interests in the Caspian Sea.... The Caspian Sea region will emerge as a central player in the global oil market. Ocalan had to be sacrificed in the struggle for hegemony among world powers."

"The Kurds' Struggle"

Independent Dong-A Ilbo averred (2/19): "To oppress the Kurds' right to self-determination was never the best way to settle the 'Kurdish issue.'... The situation requires Turkey to reconsider its rejection of dialogue with them, and the international community, including Europe and the entire Middle East, has a moral responsibility to the Kurds, who were promised their own land during World War I. The mediating role of other countries, especially the United States, is particularly critical.... The bloodshed will continue unless the international community finds a way to assuage the Kurds."

"The Kurds Are Calling For International Attention"

The independent Hankyoreh Shinmun maintained (2/19): "Ocalan's arrest has caused the Kurds' pent-up grievances to explode.... The cruelty they have been subject to is beyond description.... The violent protests they are staging across Europe are nothing but an outcry for world sympathy for their cause. At the heart of the protest lies the betrayal the Kurdish people must have felt toward the Europeans who nullified a 1920 treaty that promised their independence.... International sympathy for the lonely cries of the Kurds is required."


BANGLADESH: "Kurdish Autonomy Movement At A Crossroads"

Conservative, Bangla-language Ittefaq said (2/20): "The movement for autonomy by the Kurds is now at a crossroads with the arrest of...Ocalan.... Uncertainty has been created over the Kurds' demands for autonomy...and their armed guerrilla war to achieve that goal. Ocalan's arrest may create a leadership crisis within the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). Its morale may also diminish. For about a year, the Turkish government has conducted a stringent campaign to suppress them. Turkey did not hesitate to send troops to the Kurdish areas in Iraq and Syria to suppress them. The PKK guerrillas have become powerless due to this campaign. There is doubt as to whether their armed struggle will survive in the leadership vacuum and with such low morale. The opposite may also happen. The arrest of the top leader may strengthen their morale, and their armed struggle for the right of self-determination may continue."

INDIA: "A Rebel In Custody"

The nationalist Hindustan Times opined (2/20): "The capture of Ocalan...will add a new twist to the thorny Kurdish issue as well as to international political equations in the region.... Turkish premier Ecevit is bound to extract the maximum political mileage out of this prized 'catch.'... With Ocalan out of the way, Ankara may now go on a ruthless offensive against the PKK fighters and their civilian supporters. Unfortunately for the PKK, this could not have happened at a worse time, for it has of late dropped the earlier demand for independence and indicated a willingness to accept Kurdish autonomy and Turkish guarantees for the community's cultural and linguistic rights. Ocalan's captors, however, may now decide to drive a hard bargain and try to crush such Kurdish aspirations with renewed vigor."

"Turkey On Trial"

The centrist Times of India had this editorial (2/19): "Fascinating though they are, the details of Ocalan's arrest need not unduly detain us. What is important, however, is that the Turkish authorities afford the Kurdish rebel leader treatment consistent with international law.... If the international community is apprehensive on all these counts, it is not without good reason. Turkey may be a democracy, but its legal system leaves a lot to be desired.... Turkey's treatment of its Kurdish minority is deplorable, with the Kurds denied even basic linguistic rights.... It is ironic that the United States considers as legitimate the aspirations of the KLA and the Iraqi Kurdish militant groups--which are no less 'terroristic' than the PKK--but is complicit in the suppression of the Turkish Kurds.... Unless Turkey and the West are prepared fundamentally to alter their approach toward the Kurdish question, the problem of terrorism is not going to go away."

"Ocalan Creates Opportunity For Turkey"

Brussels correspondent Batuk Gathani penned this analysis in the centrist Hindu (2/19): "EU countries feel that a free and transparent trial, backed by substantive negotiations over autonomy proposals, could resolve the Kurdish problem.... Analysts argue that Europe needs to welcome Turkey into the fold of the EU. It is also a foregone conclusion that without any substantial movement toward Turkish accession to the EU, the influence and power of anti-European factions in Turkey, led by the Islamists, may increase. Turkey also needs to initiate major reforms in its legislative, judicial and administrative institutions to match EU levels. The government in Ankara could seize the opportunity to resolve the Kurdish problem. Ironically, a subdued Ocalan may provide that opportunity."



Pro-government Le Baobab Plus averred (2/20): "Released by Rome, the man [Ocalan] had been under the CIA's scrutiny. To please Turkey, which had opened itself to criticism for supporting Washington in the latter's major dispute with Baghdad, the CIA took him easily. In spite of the Kurdish reaction against this hold-up (sic), Ocalan's fate appears sealed. As well as that of the Kenyan regime which has now exposed itself to future terrorism from Kurds. So that is how Washington treats people. By its actions, it creates enemies and no one can know the outcome."


ARGENTINA: "Kurds, A People Having Few Friends"

Julio Crespo, international analyst for daily-of-record La Nacion, commented (2/21): "Ocalan's arrest was celebrated in Turkey. But the imprisonment--which seems to put an end to the career of a violent leader--has put before the world's eyes the plight of over twenty million people, who are...subject to governments which do not recognize their identity.... What happened last week reminds us that, if one wants to solve issues as important as Middle East peace, Turkey's EU incorporation and Arab countries' modernization, those twenty million Kurds should be taken into account. If that does not occur, Ocalan's kidnapping and indictment, far from cutting off PKK terrorist activities, could on the contrary [exacerbate] the Kurds' frustration.... If Western governments keep on ignoring the (Kurdish) claim, Kurds might feel that the time has come for them to take the reins."

"The CIA And Washington's Interests"

Julio Alganaraz commented in leading Clarin (2/19): "Solid strategic reasons linked with the crisis in Iraq explain why...the CIA and other U.S. intelligence services acted in the shadows to facilitate Ocalan's capture.... The main problem for Washington was the imbalance which Ocalan's case could cause in an ultra-sensitive area, the center of which is Saddam's Iraq.... The Turkish government was shrewd in handling the situation. On February 10 it published a statement criticizing Washington for its attacks against Iraq.... But (when the Iraqi Aziz went to Ankara), the Turkish speech had changed.... Obviously, these diplomatic jumps are justified by the Ocalan case and by the price paid to Turkey for what they most wanted: the Kurdish leader's capture.... [In the end], a triumph for Washington: The Turkey-Israel-Jordan axis has been strengthened under the United States' natural guardianship."

CANADA: "The Turkish Problem"

Frederic Wagniere of French-language, centrist La Presse commented (2/19): "The brutality and confusion surrounding demonstrations by Kurds around the world will certainly not have contributed to advancing their cause...especially since Mr. not a spotless hero.... Also, it is sad to say but Kurdistan's independence would be utopian under current conditions.... This said, Turks now have the great responsibility of having won the war and bringing to justice the leader of the separatist movement.... As the trial of Ocalan will be followed with a critical eye in the world, this should encourage the Ecevit government to respect the rights of the accused and even encourage it to show some clemency toward him.... The most difficult task for the Turkish government will be to demonstrate a minimum of respect for the rights and liberties of Kurds."

"The Kurdish Taboo"

Guy Taillefer held in French-language, liberal Le Devoir: (2/19): "Ankara is too happy at having caught Ocalan. If the international community stirs itself and takes up its responsibility, his capture and his trial could contribute to the breaking of a taboo [on talking about injustices against the Kurds].... The settling of the Kurdish conflict is therefore a question of basic justice. It is also...imperative to Middle East stability. Evidently, we cannot count on Ankara, which goes as far as to deny the existence of a Kurdish problem.... How long will we continue to see the Turkish government hinder the real democratization of Turkey by exhausting the country with a fight...against 'residual terrorism'? Ankara has it all wrong if it believes it can kill the Kurdish dream by making its symbols disappear."

VENEZUELA: "Stormy Capture"

Influential, liberal El Nacional carried this editorial (2/19): "The news of the imprisonment of Ocalan unsettled all the capitals of Europe, from Berlin to London. The Old World could not be indifferent to the Turkish drama. The presence of innumerable Kurds in the cities of Europe shows the [widespread nature] of that minority's conflict: They are refugees who have chosen to seek life in other countries. That's why this is no longer exclusively a Turkish problem, but an EU problem too.... In Ankara, it is proclaimed that 'the trial of the century' is now beginning. However, this is not about judging one man alone, but about a complex situation that affects an entire people and many countries, including Turkey and Iraq and all those countries in which displaced Kurds sought refuge from the violence. It would be a mistake to think that, with the imprisonment and sentencing of Ocalan, the Kurds will disappear from the scene."

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