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Turkey To Send 1,000 To Kosovo

June 23, 1999

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Extending its support of NATO intervention in Kosovo, Turkey is contributing 1,000 peacekeepers who will arrive in the province within a few days to serve alongside German troops, Turkish Ambassador Baki Ilkin said today.

Moving into Kosovo through Bulgaria and Macedonia, the Turkish troops will be deployed mostly in areas where the 60,000 people of Turkish ancestry live, Ilkin said at a news conference.

Turkey, a NATO member, supported the NATO bombardment campaign and took in 17,600 refugees from Kosovo while housing 10,000 others in tents in Albania and Macedonia, Ilkin said.

No European country has done more for Kosovo refugees, he said.

``Turkey has proved itself to be a dependable members of NATO and a dependable ally of the United States,″ the ambassador said.

In combating the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, Ilkin said Turkey has had the complete support of the United States.

In Mudanya, Turkey, meanwhile, Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan was on trial for treason. Conviction would automatically involve a death sentence.

Ilkin said Ocalan was responsible for 30,000 deaths. Turkey considers the PKK a terrorist organization.

The ambassador cited the replacement of a military judge by a civilian judge at the trial as an example of the new Turkish government’s commitment to human rights reforms.

In the past, one of the three judges who served in security cases was drawn from the military. But Ilkin said that arrangement was being changed to have only civilian judges on the bench.

The State Department criticized Turkey for ``serious human rights abuses″ in its annual report in February.

A new government was formed in Ankara last month, and the ambassador said it was promoting reform, including an expansion of freedom of expression.

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