US’s Gordon deems PKK a challenge for US, too

28 September 2012 / TODAY’S ZAMAN, ANKARA – US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Philip Gordon has claimed that the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been waging a decades-old separatist campaign in Turkey’s Southeast, is not only a challenge to Turkey but to the US, too. “We see it as a terrorist organization that should be combated. And we work very closely with Turkey in supporting it against the threat from the PKK,” the state-run Anatolia news agency has quoted Gordon as saying while speaking to reporters during the UN General Assembly in New York on Thursday.

The US stands strongly with Turkey on the question of the PKK, he noted.

Gordon also claimed that Turkey has a great stake in the matter given its proximity to Iran, allegedly conducting a controversial nuclear program targeting the acquisition of a nuclear bomb. He reiterated the US’s position on maintaining international dialogue with the mullah regime under the framework of P 5+1 (US, United Kingdom, France, Russia, China plus Germany) and Iran meetings. But he did not rule out a military strike on Iran, which has been backed by Israelis on international platforms, on the basis that the country is moving quickly toward nuclear capability, while mentioning “the two tracks of [US] diplomacy.”

“I would just say that our focus has been pretty clear. I’ve described the two tracks of our diplomacy. We’ve said that the P 5+1 is the right framework for those nuclear talks with Iran. We think it’s important that Iran hears a united international voice, and the P 5+1, on behalf of the Security Council, is the right voice for Iran to be hearing,” Gordon mentioned. While mentioning his meeting with Greek Cypriot Foreign Minister Erato Kozaku Markulli, Gordon also expressed the US’s full support for a UN-backed negotiation process between the ethnically divided parts of the island. He expressed disappointment that no progress has been achieved on this question so far.

“I expressed my disappointment that the talks hadn’t made more progress so far. There was, you know, over the past couple of years a certain amount of hope, especially when we began a process of direct talks between Turkish Cypriot leaders and Greek Cypriot leaders, that we could get this done,” he stated.

Gordon asserted that the negotiation process could be stalled due to the Greek Cypriot presidential election in 2013, but expressed positive wishes that the process would not be delayed that much. Gordon also noted that the US had been clear that it supported Greek Cyprus’s right to drill for gas in its “exclusive economic zone,” reiterating Greek Cypriot discourse on the issue, an issue which has become a source of tension between the South Cyprus administration and Turkey. Greek Cypriot attempts to tap offshore hydrocarbon riches have angered Ankara, which challenges Nicosia’s jurisdiction in searching for oil and gas. Last month, Texas-based Noble Energy, which is working with both Greek Cyprus and Israel, reported an offshore gas prospect of between 5 trillion and 8 trillion cubic feet for Greek Cyprus, a find which could make it self-sufficient in the commodity for decades.