No EU membership for Turkey if its troops enter Iraq: Belgium
BRUSSELS: Belgian Foreign Minister Louis Michel said on Sunday it would be “unthinkable” to allow Turkey to join the European Union if Ankara defied NATO leaders and US and sent its forces into northern Iraq.
Turkey’s government on Saturday denied media reports that it had sent more than 1,500 troops into the Kurdish-controlled area. NATO has accepted the assurances.
Ankara is concerned that Iraqi Kurds might use the US-led war against Iraq as an opportunity to establish a separate Kurdish state, and fear such a state would reignite the armed Kurdish separatism in southeastern Turkey that cost 30,000 lives in the 1980’s and 1990s
Michel, speaking in a televised debate, said he would be involved in a diplomatic effort to exert “very strong” pressure on Ankara not to send Turkish troops over its border with Iraq.
Washington fears confrontation between Turkish troops and Kurdish groups that could seriously disrupt the US military campaign in Iraq and have wider consequences for subsequent efforts to draw a fragmented country together.
Following similar German warnings, Belgian Foreign Minister Louis Michel on Sunday said Belgium too would withdraw its crewmembers from NATO surveillance planes patrolling Turkish airspace if Turkey moves its troops into Iraq.
The 19-nation alliance has four surveillance planes in Turkey, helping to defend the country in case Iraqi forces launch retaliatory strikes against it. —AFP