Turkey's two top intelligence officials have said that Ankara should allow Kurdish-language broadcasts to counter separatist propaganda by armed Kurdish rebels, Turkish newspapers reported Tuesday.
"Medya-TV, which follows the line of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), is widely watched in the southeast," where Turkey's Kurds are concentrated, the head of the National Intelligence Institution (MIT), Senkal Atasagun, told a group of reporters in a rare interview, according to Sabah daily.
"They are distorting the realities. Wouldn't it be better to put forward a competition to them?" he said.
Turkey says the European-based Medya-TV, which broadcasts in Kurdish, Turkish and English, is the mouthpiece of the PKK, which fought a 15-year war against Ankara for Kurdish self-rule.
Legalizing broadcasts in Kurdish is one of the reforms demanded by the European Union on Turkey's road to membership.
"The mother tongue (of the Kurds) is Kurdish. They do not understand Turkish. How is Turkey supposed to explain them the truths? If we want to win them, we should first reach them," Atasagun's deputy, Mikdat Alpay, added.
Atasagun said the stance of Turkey's military on the issue was "100 percent in line with our view" and that opposition to Kurdish-language broadcast came "mainly from politicians," according to Sabah.
Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit has recently said that Ankara should not be late in taking up the issue, while his deputy Mesut Yilmaz has spoken strongly in favor of the reform.
But the third partner in Ecevit's coalition, the far-right Nationalist Action Party (MHP), has voiced severe opposition, arguing that Kurdish-language broadcasts could encourage separatis-minded Kurds and fan ethnic conflicts in Turkey.
Atasagun said they still considered the PKK as a threat to Turkey although the rebels declared in September 1999 that they were laying down arms and withdrawing from Turkish territory upon peace calls from condemned PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan.
"The PKK still has around 4,500 armed members abroad and some 500 others in Turkey. As long as these forces remain, the PKK will continue to be a threat," he said.
Turkey says that rebels who retreated from Turkey are now based in northern Iraq, an area outside Baghdad's control since the 1991 Gulf War that the PKK has used as a jumping board for attacks on Turkey -- ANKARA (AFP)
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