Turkey urges Denmark to crack down on Kurdish TV

Turkey urged Denmark on Wednesday to crack down on a Kurdish television station it accuses of being a mouthpiece for a Kurdish rebel group, saying such action is part of the international fight against terrorism. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan boycotted a news conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, on Tuesday to protest the presence of journalists from the Danish-based Kurdish satellite television station Roj TV, which Turkish officials say is promulgating propaganda on behalf of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK.

Turkey, the European Union and the United States list the PKK as a terrorist group.

"Roj TV is an organization which ... is the voice of the terror organization PKK," Foreign Ministry Spokesman Namik Tan said. "The action we expect Denmark to take is part of the international cooperation in the struggle against terrorism," Tan said. "We expect Denmark to clarify its position on the issue and to take the necessary actions."

Kurdish rebels have been fighting for autonomy in Turkey's predominantly Kurdish southeast since 1984. More than 37,000 people have died in the fighting. Turkey, the United States and the European Union consider the PKK to be a terrorist organization.

Denmark says it has launched an investigation into Roj TV and cannot act until it has firm evidence against the station.

Erdogan, on a visit promoting Turkey's bid for EU membership, skipped the press conference after learning that Roj TV journalists would attend, leaving Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen to address reporters on his own.

Rasmussen said he strongly regretted Erdogan's reaction, and suggested it did little to improve the country's chances of EU membership.

"The principle of freedom of speech is absolutely fundamental as far as EU membership goes," Fogh Rasmussen said. "It's crucial that applicant countries 100 percent fulfill the political criteria, including freedom of expression."

Turkish newspapers' overwhelmingly backed Erdogan's action on Wednesday.

"The Danish Prime Minister should know that it was not just Erdogan who left that hall but the Turkish people as well," wrote Ertugrul Ozkok, editor-in-chief of the mass circulation Hurriyet newspaper. Vatan newspaper commented: "If (Rasmussen) had also sacrificed 30,000 of his people to terrorism, he would not have associated with a television founded by terrorists," reports the AP. I.L.

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