International Papers

Wild Turkey

Commenting Wednesday on Turkey’s capture of the Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan, the press across western Europe made two principal demands: that Ocalan should not be executed, as Turkish law allows, and that Turkey should seize this opportunity to reach a peaceful settlement of its Kurdish problem. It was also generally accepted in both Europe and the Middle East that U.S. intelligence was deeply involved in Ocalan’s mysterious delivery from the Greek Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, where he had been sheltering, to an island prison near Istanbul.

El Mundo of Madrid ran a front-page story on the CIA’s involvement in Ocalan’s “kidnapping,” quoting a Turkish government source as saying that “the North American secret services alerted us to his whereabouts.” The same paper carried an exclusive interview with Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit, who said it is entirely up to the judiciary to decide if Ocalan should receive a death sentence.

The paper led its front page with Ecevit saying that he hopes there will now be a solution to the Kurdish problem, though in the interview he spoke of achieving this not through greater political autonomy, as the Kurds demand, but through economic improvements in the southeast region of Turkey where they live. In an editorial Tuesday in the English-language paper, Turkish Daily News, Ilnur Cevik wrote that Ecevit and Iraqi Vice President Tariq Aziz recently agreed to a resumption of oil sales and border trade between southeast Turkey and Iraq, which had been interrupted by the American and British bombing campaign. Cevik said Turkey should now press for a lifting of sanctions against Iraq, and called on Baghdad “to utilize our unique position as a friend and neighbor of Iraq to be able to integrate back into the international community.”

Mohammad Noureddin, a leading Arab expert on Turkish affairs, told the London-based Mideast Mirror news service Tuesday that Ocalan’s “handover to Turkey by Greece via U.S. intelligence suggests that Washington may be poised for a major operation in Iraq in which it needs to enlist Ankara.” Reporting the Israeli government’s denial that it had been in any way involved, Ha’aretz said Wednesday that the denial was in response to Kurd suspicions based, in part, on a column written earlier this month in the New York Times by William Safire, who had said that “U.S. and Israeli intelligence and diplomats” were helping to track down Ocalan.

The rioting of Kurds across Europe Tuesday, with burnings and hostage-takings at Greek and Kenyan diplomatic missions, alarmed European newspapers and generated countless pages of comment and analysis. These included much self-criticism. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung said Wednesday in a front-page editorial that Germany, which has a large Kurdish immigrant population, has damaged both its own constitution and international agreements on terrorism by refusing to request Ocalan’s extradition from Italy last month, when it had an international arrest warrant out on him. The paper also warned of the influence the affair will have on Germany’s highly charged debate about the integration of immigrants into German society.

The Rome newspaper La Repubblica accused Germany of breaking European Union accords, with the result that “the whole territory of Germany is in a state of siege by the Kurd intifada.” The editorial went on to say that Europe should take a common position toward Turkey, “clarifying that its aspirations to membership of Europe will be strictly dependent on the way it manages Ocalan’s destiny. … A country that doesn’t respect the rights of defendants and which practices the death penalty doesn’t have the right to be part of Europe.” In Paris, Le Figaro said that Ankara should “judge Ocalan with all the guarantees due to him, to prove that Turkey is a state founded on the law.” It added, “This is an essential condition for any settlement of the Kurd question.” Libération called for “a political solution that necessarily requires a radical decentralization. … It is here that the role of the United States, which played a big part in Ocalan’s arrest and which for the moment can only see him as a terrorist, could be decisive.”

In an interview with the British youth magazine the Face, supermodel Kate Moss revealed that she hadn’t walked sober down the runway for 10 years. Moss, 25, who last year checked into a London rehabilitation clinic, said that she and her fellow models drank champagne from early in the morning and smoked pot all day.