October 10, 2007 / 4:07 PM / 12 years ago

EU says hopes Turkey respects Iraqi integrity

BRUSSELS, Oct 10 (Reuters) - The European Commission said on Wednesday it hoped Turkey would respect Iraq’s territorial integrity after the Turkish prime minister said his government was drawing up plans to authorise a military incursion.

A major military incursion into northern Iraq, to crush Kurdish rebels using the region as a base, would strain ties with the United States and the European Union, which Ankara hopes to join, and could undermine regional stability.

Russia also urges restraint, and political analysts say a major cross-border operation remains unlikely.

A spokeswoman for the European Union’s executive Commission said it understood Turkey’s concerns, but noted that both Ankara and the EU had reiterated their commitment to the independence, sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of Iraq.

"We hope that Turkey will continue to play a constructive role in order to reach these objectives and promote regional cooperation," Krisztina Nagy said.

Iraq and Turkey recently signed an anti-terrorism accord, but Baghdad refused Ankara’s request to allow Turkish troops to chase rebels across their shared border if the need arose.

Analysts say Erdogan is under pressure to act tough after a series of deadly rebel attacks on Turkish security forces.

Turkey’s military, the second biggest in NATO, launched a fresh offensive on Wednesday against rebels of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party in Tunceli province in the mainly Kurdish east of Turkey, television reported.

A spokeswoman at NATO headquarters in Brussels, said the alliance had no comment on Erdogan’s remarks.

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