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Turkish Leader Criticizes European 'Double Standard' on PKK

  • Al Pessin

Turkey's prime minister criticized European nations Saturday for providing sanctuary to groups that support the Kurdish Workers Party, which Turkey, the European Union and the United States have labeled a terrorist organization. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Munich, where Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke to the European Security Conference on Saturday.

Prime Minister Erdogan called on European countries to stop allowing affiliates of the group, known as the PKK, to raise money and promote their cause. The prime minister said he would not name any countries specifically, but he also called for the extradition of PKK members who are held in Europe. He is heard here through an interpreter.

"Countries who apply double standards, or who remain unwilling towards terrorism, in time, will become shareholders of negative consequences of terrorism," he said.

Prime Minister Erdogan said European countries already suffer from drug trafficking used to finance PKK activities.

He also called on the European Union to move forward with Turkey's long-standing application for membership, and he rejected calls by some in Europe to give Turkey a 'privileged partnership' status, short of full membership.

In answer to questions from the audience of senior officials and leading security experts from Europe, North America and elsewhere, the Turkish prime minister challenged Armenia's foreign minister to provide proof Turkey was responsible for a massacre of Armenians in 1915.

And he denied a charge by a Russian questioner that Turkey is harboring Chechen terrorists.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates will deliver a major speech at the conference on Sunday. He says he will lay out what he sees as the justification for European involvement in bringing stability to Afghanistan - the need ensure it does not again become a terrorist safe haven. Gates says he wants to convince ordinary Europeans to support additional troop deployments to help the undermanned NATO mission in Afghanistan.

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