ATHENS/ISTANBUL Nov 30 Turkey protested on
Friday against the presentation of a book by a Kurdish militant
leader in Athens, saying it undermined friendship efforts
between the long-standing regional rivals.
Greece and Turkey have a history of enmity which has brought
them to the brink of war on several occasions, most recently in
1996. Relations have since warmed with natural disasters in both
countries bringing the two NATO allies closer.
Ankara, however, reacted angrily to the presentation of a
book in the Greek capital's War Museum written by Murat
Karayilan, the de-facto leader of the Kurdistan Workers Party
(PKK) who is sought by Interpol.
Turkey's foreign ministry said Foreign Minister Ahmet
Davutoglu phoned his Greek counterpart on Thursday to complain
about the event, which it described as an "extremely unfortunate
development" in what it called a fight against terrorism.
"It is also worrying in the sense of showing that some
circles, who are uneasy about the development of Turkish-Greek
friendship, are still active," the ministry said.
The PKK, which took up arms in 1984 in a campaign for
autonomy in Turkey's mainly Kurdish southeast, is listed as a
terrorist organisation by Turkey, the United States and the
Greece sought to play down the spat, saying it knew nothing
about Wednesday's presentation, which was privately organised.
"This event has no relation whatsoever with the Greek
government ... therefore, there is no issue," the ministry's
spokesman Gregory Delavekouras said.
"Greece condemns all forms of terrorism unequivocally."
The book's translator, a former Greek army general and spy
with Greece's Intelligence Service when the PKK's imprisoned
leader Abdullah Ocalan was captured in 1999, was unimpressed.
"One wonders where (Ankara) found the audacity or better
yet, who gave Turkey the right to try and create an issue where
one doesn't exist," Savvas Kalenteridis wrote in a blog post,
slamming Ankara's remarks as "completely ridiculous and silly".
Ocalan was captured and returned to Turkey after hiding in
the Greek ambassador's residence in Kenyan capital Nairobi in
1999. Three Greek ministers were forced to resign at the time
amid accusations that they had colluded in hiding Ocalan.
More than 40,000 people, mostly Kurds, have been killed in
the 28-year-old conflict between the PKK and Turkish forces.
Turkish F-16 warplanes launched an attack on a group of PKK
fighters identified by drones in southeastern Turkey, killing
eight of the fighters, security sources said on Friday.
The local governor's office said the attack in the early
hours of Thursday was triggered when thermal cameras spotted the
Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants in the Semdinli district
of Hakkari province, near the borders with Iraq and Iran.
There has been an upsurge in PKK violence over the summer
and 42 militants were reportedly killed in a three-day operation
in Hakkari earlier this month.
Ankara has linked the rise in violence to the chaos in
neighbouring Syria and has accused Syrian President Bashar
al-Assad of resuming support for the PKK and arming the
(Reporting by Karolina Tagaris in Athens and Daren Butler in
Istanbul; Editing by Jon Hemming)