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Monday, 19 September 1994
Page: 940

(Question No. 1560)

Senator Chamarette asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice, on 8 July 1994:

  With reference to the seemingly intractable conflict in those areas of Turkey, Iraq and Iran inhabited by Kurdish people:

  (1) Has the Government been involved in any international initiatives directed to bringing about a peaceful resolution of the struggle.

  (2) Has the Government initiated any contact with the Government of Turkey with a view to encouraging negotiations between the Kurdish Workers' Party and the Turkish Government.

  (3) What is the Government's assessment of the likelihood of a settlement being reached between the Turkish Government and the Kurds.

Senator Gareth Evans —The answer to the honourable senator's question is as follows:

  (1) The Australian Government does not support calls for an independent Kurdish State which, in any case, is opposed by all Governments in the region. The Australian Government considers that the Kurds' cultural and political aspirations can best be met by working within the laws of those countries which have Kurdish communities.

  Australia expects all Governments with Kurdish populations to respect the rights of those groups. Australia expects the Iraqi Government to comply with the terms of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 688 of 6 April 1991 which demands that Iraq end its repression of civilian groups, including Kurds, and insists on immediate access by international humanitarian agencies to all those in need of assistance.

  The Australian Government will continue to monitor developments affecting Kurdish people and will continue to respond appropriately, including through the aid program, to requests for humanitarian assistance and with respect to abuses of human rights.

  (2) The Government is concerned at the continuing violence in the south-east of Turkey between Turkish military forces and the Kurdistan Workers' Party, the PKK. The Australian Government has urged the Turkish Government to exercise restraint in dealing with the insurrection in south-eastern Turkey and has encouraged a peaceful solution to the problem.

  (3) The Australian Government continues to hope that a settlement to the unrest in the south-east of Turkey will be found. This is, however, unlikely as long as the PKK resorts to violence rather than legitimate political action to achieve its aims.