Turkish PM Pledges More Investment for Kurds, Unrest Continues

Posted June 1st, 2011 at 10:30 am (UTC-5)
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Turkey's prime minister has announced new projects for the country's biggest Kurdish city, in what is viewed as an attempt to gain Kurdish support ahead of the June 12 parliamentary elections.

Speaking in Istanbul Wednesday, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced plans for boosting economic and social development in the southeastern city of Diyarbakir. The projects include the renovation of the city's historic walled city, a new airport, a dam, a stadium and more hospitals and highways.

Mr. Erdogan launched an initiative in 2009 to grant Kurds greater cultural rights, including the establishment of a Kurdish-language television channel and the teaching of Kurdish in schools, but Kurdish parties also want political reform and autonomy.

In a separate development, Turkish police Wednesday detained 18 people suspected of planning attacks at an election rally by the far-right Nationalist Action Party in Diyarbakir set for next Monday, adding to tensions ahead of the June 12 vote.

Polls show Mr. Erdogan's ruling Justice and Development Party is set to win a third term in power. The Nationalist Action Party is struggling to reach the 10-percent threshold needed to get into parliament.