EU support Italy in refusing to handover Ocalan to Turkey

  • Voice of America
  • 22/11/1998 00:00:00

The European Union has given its support to Italy in the handling of Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan. The Italian government has refused turkey's request for the extradition of the Kurdish leader. Ron Pemstein reports from Brussels, the European Union is not as united as the statement might indicate.

Austria holds the current presidency of the European Union and a statement issued on behalf of the union expresses full solidarity with Italy and its resolve to abide fully with its laws and legal obligations.

Until Saturday, the European Union had refused to become involved in the argument between Italy and Turkey on the fate of Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan. The European commission had refused comment, citing the disagreement among its members about the validity of turkey's extradition request.

An Italian court dismissed turkey's request on Friday. He has been ordered to stay in Rome while other legal matters are considered.

Germany has a 1990 arrest warrant for the Kurdish worker's party leader but put off asking Italy for Mr. Ocalan’s extradition because of the Turkish request. A German government spokesman says the case is in good hands with Italy.

The German magazine "Der Spiegel" says a new German arrest warrant is being prepared against Mr. Ocalan for a series of arson charges in 1993. The 1990 warrant cites a single murder charge.

Italian Prime Minister Massimo D'alema is consulting with European leaders on the Kurdish leader's fate. He met with Austrian foreign minister Wolfgang schusses in Croatia. Afterward, Austria issued the European Union statement that rejected threats by turkey against Italy.

Turkish Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz accuses Italy of making peace with terrorism by refusing his country's extradition request. Mr. Yilmaz talks about Italy earning turkey's eternal hostility. Mr. Ocalan faces the death penalty in turkey.

Turkey is not a member of the European Union and has not been considered for membership. European Union officials cite human rights concerns centered on turkey's handling of its Kurdish minority.

Turkey wants support within NATO where it is a member and has American support for Mr. Ocalan to be brought to justice.

Prime Minister D’alema is consulting with German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder as well as with the European commission here in Brussels and French leaders in Paris to see how to proceed. Mr. D'alema promises to watch Mr. Ocalan and to make sure he does not carry out any hostile activities against turkey.

  • Voice of America
  • 22/11/1998 00:00:00