FECL 53 (January/February 1998):
There are persistent rumours in Bonn, that German government agencies are negotiating both with the Turkish government and its main ally in northern Iraq, the KDP of Masoud Barzani, with the aim of preventing Kurdish refugees from leaving northern Iraq, by:
the creation of an "internal flight alternative" for Kurds by setting up a "safe area" in northern Iraq on the territory controlled by the KDP;
German economic support to civilian reception structures for displaced people to be set up by the KDP;
opening of a land route at the Turkish-Iraqi border making possible the return by Germany of Iraqi Kurds to northern Iraq.
The issue was first raised in autumn last year. In a question to the Federal Government, a Green member of the German Bundestag, Ms Amke Dietert-Scheuer, claimed the German Government was "negotiating with Turkish authorities and representatives for the Iraqi Kurds in order to open a travel route to Iraq". Ms Dietert-Scheuer went on to assert that meetings, consultations and arrangements were taking place at the German Federal Office for the Recognition of Refugees, BAFl (Bundesamt für die Anerkennung ausländischer Flüchtlinge) with respect to asylum practice concerning asylum seekers from Iraq. Responding to specific questions of Ms Dietert-Scheuer, the Federal Government denied any negotiations either with Turkey or with the Iraqi-Kurdish KDP. The government, however, at the same time confirmed that the possibility of a return of Iraqi Kurds to areas controlled by either the KDP or the PUK, was being examined in each individual case, just as was the possibility of "voluntary return" with a transit visa via Turkey.
According to Dietert-Scheuer's office at the Federal Parliament in Bonn, the MP's question to the government was based on information provided to her by a senior representative of the KDP, last summer in Bonn.
Sources: Antwort der Bundesregierung auf Kleine Anfrage Amke Dietert-Scheuer, Drucksache 13/8906, 31.10.97.