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Last Updated: Tuesday, 4 April 2006, 21:32 GMT 22:32 UK
Turk PM hits back at Kurd unrest
Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Mr Erdogan is being pushed by the EU to increase aid to Kurds
Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan says efforts will continue to improve conditions for the Kurdish minority, after a week of unrest.

However he again attacked Kurdish separatists, warning them "not to dare to test the power of the state."

Fifteen people have died in protests involving Kurds and security forces in Istanbul and the south-east.

Correspondents say Mr Erdogan's remarks - tough yet conciliatory - reflect the pressures he faces over the Kurds.

Hardline nationalists in Ankara have accused him of cosseting the Kurds.

However the EU, which Ankara seeks to join, has been pushing for greater freedom for the minority, largely based in Turkey's impoverished south-east.

The latest unrest was triggered by the funeral last week of separatist militants from the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), killed in clashes with security forces.

The PKK recently ended a five-year ceasefire and under the new name of Kongra-Gel, revived its armed campaign for Kurdish independence.

'Final convulsion'

Addressing his party on Tuesday, Mr Erdogan said development projects for the Kurds would continue.

Protester arrested
The government has warned force will be used against protesters

"We will not back down from justice and democracy," he said.

While the Kurdish separatists "try to capitalise on hatred and enmity", Mr Erdogan said, "we will build more roads, more hospitals, more schools and more workplaces."

But, he added, his government would not negotiate with pro-Kurdish politicians until they denounced the PKK.

Describing the recent unrest as the PKK's "final convulsion", he said: "Those traitors have emerged again because they know the ground is beginning to slip beneath their feet and they have been buried by history."

Tens of thousands of civilians have died since the PKK began its armed struggle in 1984, prompting a massive clampdown on Kurds by Turkish security forces.




SEE ALSO:
Kurd unrest escalates in Turkey
30 Mar 06 |  Europe
Timeline: Turkey
03 Jul 05 |  Country profiles
Country profile: Turkey
03 Jul 05 |  Country profiles


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