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And I would like to welcome to the institute Soner who is an old friend. I am sure that all of you or many of you who deal with Turkey. Know him, know his writings. Soner has a very long and distinguished career. He started at Princeton, he probably started little before, but we will mention only that where he Make sure from Yale. Sorry, Yale. I keep making the mistake but at least I didn't say Harvard. No. Good to know, where he was trained as a historian in Eastern Europe. He then joined the Washington Institute for Near East Policy in Washington where he is a fellow and he is in-charge of the Turkish Program. He is also a lecturing at George Town as a professor in Turkish studies and he is in-charge of training U.S. Diplomats on Turkey at the State Department. So he has all the tools as an analyst, as a scholar and as a practitioner to present us with a competent view of Turkey and Turkish issues. Today the focus of our briefing is the PKK and the role it plays both within the Turkish context, but also vis-ÃƒÆ’Ã†â€™Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â -vis European interests. Soner the floor is yours, you have about half an hour and then we will open it to questions. The session is on the record. Thank you. Very nice. Thank you Emanuele. Always pleasure to be here and I want to thank the Transatlantic Institute for inviting me up to Brussels. Its very crucial time for us to be discussing issues on Turkey you know, because it is a milestone in terms of Turkey's EU Accession Process with the Commission's report out and the council about to make its decision next month on what to do with Turkey and there are there is a larger debate on Turkey's EU Accession and that's for another time, we are doing it and a round table later on today. But what I would like to do it for you this morning is to look at one specific issue. That has a significant bearing on Turkish foreign policy and that is the issue of the Kurdistan Workers Party PKK. Why that's important? Well, let me put it in this way. That, I consider, I think if that is an important issue for Turkish foreign policy. But why should people in Brussels care? Why is it important to you? For those of you, especially who are within the European Union Bureaucracy. And well, to do that I will start by giving you couple of pictures of this the PKK issue and its impact on Turkey's foreign policy and I am going to call them small picture and mid-size picture and then a large picture. By small, mid-size and large I don't mean one is more important than the other, it's just a bigger scope, bigger focus as opposed to a smaller scope or a smaller focus. Let me start with the smallest picture. First of all, I think, we need to put this into context. Why is that issue so important for the Turks? Why are the Turks obsessed with the PKK issue and why can't they discuss this issue calmly? Well, the answer is, for a lot of Turks and, in fact, majority of the people inside the country, the PKK represents an organization as a result of whose violence most Turks know someone who was killed as a result of PKK violence, in other words. So it's an issue that's closer to hearts of so many Turks. The violence that started in 1984 lasted until 1999 when the PKK leader ÃƒÆ’Ã†â€™ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Å“calan was captured and the group declared a unilateral ceasefire. About 30000 people died during the that period of 15 years. As a result of that I think one way of understanding why this issue is so important is that, all Turks know someone killed by the PKK, or killed as a result of PKK violence. So that explains why the issue is so close to the hearts of so many Turks. But it also explains one more thing. It explains why, for example, throughout the 1990s Turkey looked at its relations with its Middle-Eastern neighbors through the prism of the PKK. In other words countries in the Middle-East that seemed to support or harbored PKK were seen by Turkey as enemies and the countries in the Middle-East that supported Turkey against the PKK were seen as allies. So if you look at the developments of the 1980s and 1990s the PKK was started in the very late 1970s in certain occupied Bekaa Valley where the group's initial trainers were Palestinian terrorists and militant groups. But it actually enjoyed safe heaven inside Syria throughout the 1980's this was the Cold War. The Soviet Union hated the fact that Turkey was America's closest ally and it was sitting right on the border with the Soviet Union. In fact Turkey was a special country as far as the Soviet Union was concerned, because it was the with the exception of Norway's 100 miles across the Artic Ocean, Turkey was the only NATO country that border Soviet Union and Europe. So for the Soviets it could not be a biggest thorn on their side to say that, here is Turkey, Americans can listen, eavesdrop, carry out operations through Turkey and the PKK was seen as an arm, as an instrument with which to undermine Turkey's stability. So the Soviet Union supported the group and its client state Syria provided the PKK with a safe haven both in Syria and in Lebanon. As a result of that Turkey's perception of Syria was extremely negative, because Syria supported the PKK, provided it with safe haven. The PKK hurt Turkey, killed Turks, carried out suicide attacks, bombings, bombed malls to, you know, public employees, slaughtered the inhabitants of entire villages in the 80s and 90s and people identify Syria as a close threat. There was a second country that came in, which the Turks feel negatively because it harbored the PKK and that was Iran. Iranians support for the PKK gradually built up over the years, especially in the 1990s. For Iran this was not the issue of communism and undermining Turkey stability, but it was an issue of regimes perception of Turkey. If you were to think of two States in the Muslim world that are most opposed to one another ideologically, those would be Iran and Turkey. You know, to the extent that Iran is not a democracy and is not secular, Turkey is a democracy and is secular and I don't think there are any other States in the Muslim world that are most opposed to one another ideologically than Turkey and Iran are and ironically they are neighbors, they sit next to one another. So for Iran in the 1990s the country was was and is though extremely uncomfortable with the fact that there is this pro-western, secular democratic nation sitting next door and the PKK was seen as a tool with which to hurt Turkey and to undermine once again its stability. And I think this teaches something about Middle-East politics, there is a pattern coming up whether it's in Turkey's Iran's behavior or in Syria's behavior. Terrorist groups are proxies in foreign policy. In other words instead of to openly declare war on Turkey or instead of taking openly hostile action, its it makes more sense to Middle-East politics if a country instead supported a terrorist group to undermine Turkey or to hurt Turkey and that's that was the foreign policy towards Syria and Iran. How did that shape Turkey's perception? As I said Turks are angry over the PKK and the fact that these two countries harbored the PKK, made them extremely angry of these two States. So Turkish-Iranian and Turkish and Syrian relations in the 1990's were in dismal shape, very cold, very distant. In fact Turkey often times, in the good old European fashion used diplomatic means with these countries and every time would have meetings and would have visits and saying that these two countries should not be harboring the PKK and it was not good neighborly policy and they should be changing their behavior and this went on throughout the 1980s and the 1990s What was ironic is that, and I would use some anecdotes from friends at the Turkish Foreign Ministry, every time people will go to Damascus and say, look we don't have PKK bases inside this country. We know that you harbor PKK in Bekaa valley, Lebanon. We know that PKK leaders Abdullah ÃƒÆ’Ã†â€™ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Å“calan is in Damascus, that's not very nice stop doing it and the Syrian answer would be no, we know there is no PKK here or whatever evidence you have is is not true and there were number of times when the Turkey, Turks actually provided the Syrians with the home address of Abdullah ÃƒÆ’Ã†â€™ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Å“calan in Damascus and the Syrians would say, we will take you there tomorrow. Overnight they would move ÃƒÆ’Ã†â€™ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Å“calan out. They would take the Turkish diplomats in an empty apartment in Damascus and say, you see, he is not here. Farcical, this went on and on and on until 1998 when Turkey decided that it will not tolerate this kind of hostile behavior anymore. In other words use of terrorist organizations as a proxy in foreign policy and it Turkey decided that it will also not tolerate the PKK casualties anymore and that it would take matters into its hands. As a result of that Turkey had a serious change of attitude towards Syria. Its mass troops on the Syrian border, this is 1998 and I was living overseas at that time, but you know, already internet age, so you could follow the newspapers and I remember very clearly that the day Turkish troops started massing and carrying out exercises along the Syrian border and this makes sense it - within the background of Turkey's then foreign policy. One of the Turkish newspapers came out with a headline, the newspaper is Hurriyat. If you put together the three biggest newspapers in any country that's the kind of penetration that Hurriyat has across Turkey's, both popular and has a wide penetration. The headline on Hurriyat said we are going to say Shalom to the Israelis on the Golan Heights. To get to the Golan Heights Turks have to walk through Syria, the Syrians got the message and this was within the background of Turkish-Israeli partnership in the 1990s. The next stage, the Syrians said, Oh we found the ÃƒÆ’Ã†â€™ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Å“calan. He's here, sorry ÃƒÆ’Ã†â€™ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Å“calan was kicked out from Syria then he went on this long tour in Europe, he was provided with safe haven by a variety of countries, Syria's behavior changed immediately when it was threatened with the use of force and that had a serious impact on Turkish relations. What was extremely hostile relationship up until that time became very friendly starting with 1998 with the change of behavior on the Syrian side. Another country changes behavior on the Syrian side, on the PKK side and that's Iran. Iran has nothing to do with what we discussed. Iran's change of behavior has mostly got to do with post Iraq war, Middle East landscape. In other words Iran provided PKK with camps in the 1990s because what is the best way to hurt a secular western Turkey, than to support a terror group of course. But it was at at the end of the Iraq war starting with 03' that Iranians realized that strategically speaking Iran was now being a sandwiched on many sides by Americans. If you think of Iranian geography, to the east there is Afghanistan, to the west there is Iraq, in both there is American military presence. Around Iran from at least from Qatar to Azerbaijan there are American allies and American bases, so change of color in Iranian foreign policy suddenly, it became important and crucial to have Turkey as an ally, because if you think of it, Turkey is the only country with which Iran can hope to break the group of isolation that Washington is establishing around Iran. Of all the neighbors that the country has this is the one country that Iran can to hope to win with the right public diplomacy measures and this is the reason why Iranian behavior on the PKK changed in 2003. This is most telling. The same country that had PKK camps that actually harbored of PKK in its territory in the 1990s is now actually combating the PKK. And by combating I really mean combating, not just providing intelligence against terror as Syria does but combating as in actually fighting and actually bombing PKK camps some of which are still in its territory and some of which are on its border with Iraq or inside Iraqi border but spilling over into Iran on mountainous terrain of northern Iraq. And Iran is doing this masterfully. So February 2006, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice goes to Ankara, because the Turks are so angry over the fact that PKK is in northern Iraq and Americans are not doing anything about PKK in northern Iraq and Condoleezza Rice says all the right things in Ankara. She says we are together in the war on terror. Of course, we are going to support Turkey's struggle against PKK but we can't truly do it now but we are in principle with you. She says all the nice things and all the right things. The same day Secretary Rice was in Ankara Iran was bombing PKK camps. So here is this piece of news on the front page of Turkish newspapers. What Secretary Rice said and next to it is what piece of news about what Iranians are doing and there is an expression in American English you know, if that Iranians that Americans talk the talk and Iranians walk the walk. In other words Americans are all about words, Iranians actually deliver, and this is how it looks. And as I said Iranians are really doing this masterfully because it realizes how importantly the PKK issue shapes Turkey's relation to the Middle East. This brings me to my second picture. Remember I said I am going to suggest three pictures. The small picture was why Turks are angry over the PKK. The medium sized picture is about how this is shaping Turkey's relationship to Iraq? Because Syria is not supporting Iran any more PKK any more, Iran is not supporting PKK anymore and Iran is actually combating PKK. So where is the PKK today in the Middle East? It's in Northern Iraq. The organization has bases and actual enclaves that it controls in northern Iraq, area controlled by the two Iraqi Kurdish parties, KDP and PUK in both areas, but predominantly in an enclave called Kandil Mountain it's actually a plateau surrounded by mountains on the eastern side of northern Iraq right across the Iranian border. It's a fairly large area with enclave with about 3000 to 3500 PKK terrorists inside that enclave. Well, how was that shaping Turkey's perception of what's going on Iraq? First of all Turks are looking at this and saying who is in charge in Iraq? Americans, who is technically and really in charge in northern Iraq? The Iraqi Kurds, the PUK and the KDP. Are they doing anything against the PKK? No. So ironically and, but not surprisingly, since you have heard at the beginning of the presentation the issue is not shaping Turkey's perception of both US presence in Iraq as well as political ambitions of Iraqi Kurds in the same way that it shaped Turkeys perceptions of Syria and Iran in the 1990s. In other words American and Iraqi Kurds are the new Syrians and the new Iranians. It's a very it's a scary assertion but its true, because of the way the Turks judge their Middle Eastern neighborhood. As I said earlier, remember in the beginning, through PKK. In other words if you support the PKK you are Turkeys enemy and if you help Turkey against the PKK then you are Turkey's friend. Now, what does that mean in terms of American military presence and control of northern Iraq, here is how it looks. The fact that the Americans are not doing anything against the PKK means that they are helping it because if you are not doing anything against it then you are undermining its presence. Its actions and as a result of that the Turkish perception of America is more negative on this issue than it has ever been. In fact, it is probably as negative as Turkish perceptions of Syria and Iran were in the 1990s and as I said this is very scary but it is true. If you do an opinion poll across Turkey and said who supports the PKK, an overwhelming percentage of the Turks would say Americans. They don't, but in their minds they do because they allow PKK to exist. That's enough for them to come to the conclusion that Americans are supporting the PKK. The fact that they are not doing anything is leading the Turks to say that well because you are not doing anything they are helping them. And here I am going from the the medium picture to the larger picture. So, its now shaping Turkeys ties to the United States, its also shaping Turkeys ties to Iraq and Iraqi Kurds but there is the larger picture and that's, its also shaping Turkeys ties to Europe. How is this you know because so far we have discussed this within the perspective of Middle East geography, how does Europe come in here? Well, those of you who have studied the PKK issue and issues of terrorism inside the EU are familiar with the fact that the PKK has an extensive network inside the EU, which includes propaganda organizations including TV networks, broadcasting out of Denmark. It includes fund raising operations, training camps. One was shut down in the Netherlands at the end of 2004 in a village in southern Netherlands not far from here called Liempde. It was actually a training camp not an indoctrination camp, not where they were teaching Marxists Leninists and nationalism whatever, actual training camp where they were teaching how to kidnap people? How to carry out bombings? How to carry out violence, shut down. If there is one camp I am only tempted to believe that there might be, or there should be others. There is a vast network of PKK presence on the continent which is involved in fundraising, both in terms of extortion, but also in terms of running a criminal network. And that I think is where the European picture comes in and because PKKs source of funding seems to becoming predominantly from its operations, legal and illegal from the European continent. By illegal, I mean, actual fundraising, fund drives, collections of "protection money" from Kurdish run businesses, kidnappings of people, getting ransom money for that but also carrying out criminal operations inside the continent including smuggling drugs and smuggling people. UN office of drugs and UNODC, UN Office of Drugs and Crime, it's an actual UN body estimates that the amount of money generated on an annual basis on drug trafficking from Middle East and Central Asia into Europe on an annual basis is $5 billion. That's the UN estimate. And that the PKK benefits probably about from $2 billion of this amount it's a huge amount. The group smuggles people into the continent from Iraq, from Iran, from places further east. How is PKK able to do this? You know, I mean, smuggling people, smuggling drugs is not easy business because the group has a network which it established in the 1990s to smuggle its members "into the safety of Europe". In the 1990s those of you were around here know that the picture of the most Europeans of the PKK was very different than what it is today. This is before Europe had met terror itself, so for a lot of people PKK was "freedom fighters" and the PKK enjoyed safe haven in almost all the European countries. In fact it went on the the terrorist list of the European Union only very recently, much after 1990s when it was able to establish an actual network inside the continent and that network helped the PKK smuggle its members From Turkey who would be arrested or who were hurt into Europe for safety, for recovery and so and so forth. That network that the PKK established and this is from discussions I had with Interpol officials, variety of European countries is now what the Interpol calls the courier (ph) network. In other words if you like to have something delivered from Iraq into London, the PKK will do it for you. And in the opposite direction if you like to have something delivered from London or Brussels or Paris into Iraq or Iran the PKK will do it for you if you pay them enough. The organization has this network of peoples smuggling operations carrying out it's members in the 1990s but now carrying out smuggling drugs and smuggling people from the Middle-East into the Europe, European Continent and I think that explains why the group is able to raise so much money and so much funds from this vast network that it has. Why is that important? Where is the bigger picture here? You know, as I said number of pictures that the bigger picture for the Europeans or that if you in Brussels There are two ingredients to terror. One is people, you need crazy people who are going to do the killing and one is you need money, so that crazy people can kill people. So if the PKK is human infrastructure, its terrorist base is in Northern Iraq and that's bad for Turkey's ties with America we know that. Its ability to carry out and fund its operations in Iraq is because of the financial network that it has inside European Continent. And this is a fact that is clearly known, perhaps not as articulate, but clearly known to all Turks that the PKK has a vast network. The propaganda, recruitment and financial gain inside the continent and it is shaping Turkey's perception of Europe in an extremely negative way. In other words awareness, Turks are very upset and weary of U.S. support or the lack of U.S. support to Turkey and Iraq, and this is making them angry at the same way they are extremely angry about the presence of the PKK network inside of the continent. Whether that's propaganda network or of TV station broadcasting into Turkey. Whether that's an information office, there are many of them in places from Italy up to Germany. Whether that is a newspaper in Germany again or whether that is actual training camps as the likes of which were shutdown in the Netherlands, all of that, I think, is leading to a perception in Turkey that this group receives at least tacit backing from European countries, because if you are not doing anything against the PKK you are supporting it. So, you know, I am sure our people will come out and say, well, you know, of course European countries are not supporting the PKK. I have no proof to suggest that they are, but the fact that they are not doing anything against the network is enough for: a). A lot of Turks to conclude that if you are not doing anything against the terrorist group then you are actually helping it. And b) That this kind of tacit approval is actually a form of support when you are not taking any action. That, I think, is the bigger picture. For those of you in Brussels and if you would like to understand I think one of the issues that we are looking at in this day and age is decreasing Turkish enthusiasm for the European Union. People are saying, you know, support for EU in Turkey is now down to 30 percent, it was 90 percent 3 years ago. Why did it go from 90 to 30, here is one of the major reasons, it will go further down if the same balance continues, in other words there is now daily PKK violence inside Turkey. The group declared a ceasefire in 1999 when its leader Abdullah ÃƒÆ’Ã†â€™ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Å“calan was captured. Remember after he was kicked out of Syria he went on a tour of European countries and then he was finally captured by Turkish special Ops, special operative troops in Kenya. After that the PKK pulled its terrorists out of Turkey because it had lost its leader and it wanted to regroup in Northern Iraq because it knew that it could be hurt terribly now that it has lost lost its brain and so there was a period of peace and quiet from 1999 up until 2004. But since 2004 PKK violence is back, casualties were tremendously high during this past summer, 23 people were killed in the month of July alone. That's higher than the number of almost as high as the American casualties on a monthly basis in Iraq if you break it down. So people are extremely angry over this issue and with increasingly more and more people making their way to Iraq, to American presence in Iraq, to the Iraqi Kurds in Iraq and saying they are not doing anything, so they they are actually tacitly supporting the group. Increasingly they are linking this to the Iraqi Kurds and saying the PKK could not and would not survive in northern Iraq if it did not have logistic support, at least logistic support from Iraqi Kurds which is a true assertion. So it's shaping it's negatively shaping Turkey's perception of these two countries. Iraqi Iraq as well as official Iraqi Kurds but also of America On the other hand the fact that Syria and Iran are now either helping Turkey against the PKK or combating the PKKs in the case of Iran has made them into good guys, as far as Turkey is concerned, and with the renewal of PKK violence since 2004 and the important fact that PKK is able to carry its operations because of a vast financial network and recruitment and propaganda network inside the EU is also making the EU look to the Turks as a negative actor when it comes to PKK's impact on Turkish foreign policy. There is a longer discussion here that we can go into in the Q&A and I am going to finish here and this is how the issue is not just shaping Turkey's relationship to the Middle East, but it is also shaping Turkey's ties to the bigger western world, whether that actor is the United States or the European Union and as, someone ,you know, who was born and raised in Turkey, and looked at Turkey's ties to the west as extremely valuable ties, that makes me extremely worried. I look at this and I say if there was one issue that could break the anchors that tie Turkey to the west, that would be the way the Turks think and perceive that the PKK is being funded and supported or receiving tacit support from its networks in Iraq and from its networks inside the Union. I am going to end here and I think there are so many good questions waiting, so we will go on