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Last Updated: Sunday, 23 October 2005, 15:41 GMT 16:41 UK
Writer repeats Turk deaths claim
Orhan Pamuk
Orhan Pamuk is modern Turkey's best-known novelist
Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk has stood by controversial remarks he made about Turkey's killing of Armenians during World War I and Kurds in the 1980s.

He was speaking in Germany, where he has been awarded a major peace prize.

"I repeat, I said loud and clear that one million Armenians and 30,000 Kurds were killed in Turkey," Mr Pamuk said, echoing comments he made in February.

Turkey denies genocide against the Armenians and is prosecuting Mr Pamuk for "denigrating" national identity.

Mr Pamuk is due to appear in court in mid-December to answer the charge, which carries a prison sentence of up to three years.

He received the German book industry's peace prize in Frankfurt on Sunday, at a ceremony where he was praised for novels that trace "the imprints of the East on the West and those of the West on the East".

Genocide dispute

Mr Pamuk aroused fury in his home country when he told a Swiss newspaper in February that "one million Armenians were killed in these lands and nobody but me dares to talk about it".

He said on Sunday that he had never used the word genocide to describe the killing of Armenians.

"Whether it should be called 'genocide' or 'mass murder'... or something else, has to be decided by experts," Reuters news agency quotes him as saying.

Ankara argues that thousands of Muslim Turks as well as Christian Armenians died in conflicts that erupted in the last days of the Ottoman Empire.

Armenians however say 1.5 million people from their minority community died as the Ottoman authorities of the time tried to deport and exterminate them.

Mr Pamuk has also been criticised for discussing Turkey's campaign against separatist Kurdish fighters, who began an uprising against the state in the mid-1980s.

Prestigious award

Turkey - which is keen to improve its human rights record ahead of European Union entry talks next month - is sensitive over both the Armenian and Kurdish issues.

EU officials have accused Turkey of suppressing Mr Pamuk's freedom of speech by bringing him to trial for his remarks.

Mr Pamuk, a keen supporter of Turkey's EU entry bid, said he "cannot image a Turkey that does not dream of being part of Europe" any more than he can imagine "a Europe that defines itself without Turkey".

Past recipients of the German book world's peace prize include Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe and US author Susan Sontag.

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