Attacks on Zaman prove PKK deserves spot on terror list

Attacks on Zaman prove PKK deserves spot on terror list

World Media Group Vice Chairman Mustafa Altaş speaks with Alexander Graf Lambsdorff (L), a Liberal in the EP, about the PKK attack on the Zaman daily’s office in Cologne. (Photo: Today's Zaman)

February 21, 2012, Tuesday/ 18:16:00/ SELÇUK GÜLTAŞLI

The vice chairman of the Liberals in the European Parliament has strongly condemned the Kurdistan Workers’ Party’s (PKK) attacks on Zaman offices in Europe. Vice Chairman Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, who visited Zaman’s office in Cologne on Monday in a show of solidarity, said the attacks were completely unacceptable and underlined that the attacks proved the PKK deserves its place on the EU’s list of terrorist organizations.

The vice chairman of the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) in the European Parliament and the shadow rapporteur for Turkey said intimidation of journalists was in no way acceptable in both Europe and his native Germany.

“I came here to express my solidarity with the journalists who are working here. Terrorism is about intimidating people. The PKK wanted to intimidate the journalists working for Zaman. We cannot accept that. We want journalists to work freely regardless of what they write about,” said Lambsdorff.

Asked whether the attacks could be mentioned in the upcoming European Parliament Turkey 2011 Progress Report, Lambsdorff said the PKK would be strongly condemned in the document. “We will condemn the PKK very clearly in the upcoming European Parliament report. I am not sure if we can still insert something [about the attack on the Zaman offices] in the report. However, the spirit of the report is very clear. We want media representatives and journalists to be able to work in freedom, free from intimidation and fear. If journalists fear that they will be attacked personally or that their offices might be attacked, then that is not the kind of environment we want for free media,” he said.

The progress report, authored by Dutch Christian Democrat Ria Oomen-Ruijten, is expected to be approved at the end of March. This year’s report is expected to condemn PKK terrorism in much stronger terms compared to the language used in previous reports.

The PKK attacked Zaman offices in Paris, Cologne, Zurich and London. The Cologne office was attacked on Feb. 15 and German police detained two people in the wake of the fire bomb attack. French police have not detained anyone yet after the Paris office was attacked for the third time in six months.

Asked whether he agreed with Turkey’s constant criticism that it receives no help from European countries in combating separatist violence, Lambsdorff said he could only speak for his own country and underlined that the perpetrators were detained right after the attack. The German politician said: “I can speak for my country, Germany. I came here to express my solidarity with the Zaman journalists. Police arrested the perpetrators of these attacks very quickly. I believe this allegation [the EU’s alleged failure to aid Turkey], in the case of Germany, is unfounded.”

Mahmut Çebi, the editor-in-chief of Zaman Germany, and Mustafa Altaş, vice chairman of the World Media Group A.G., expressed their gratitude for the solidarity and spoke of their relief that the fire bomb did not cause any major damage.

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