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Tough on Blackmail

DW staff (win)July 11, 2008

The German government has said that it will not give in to demands of a group of Kurdish militants, who abducted three German mountaineers from Turkey's highest mountain.

Silhouettes of people imposed on a PKK flag
The PKK has been banned in Germany since 1993Image: AP

The rebels, who support the militant Kurdish Worker's Party (PKK), which is banned in Germany, said Thursday, July 10, that Germany should "end its hostile policy towards the Kurdish people and the PKK" to secure the release of the three men, aged 33, 48 and 65.

Responding to the demand, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said that Berlin was not going to be blackmailed.

"We expect an immediate and unconditional release," he said.

"We won't be blackmailed"

German Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble meanwhile said that members of Germany's federal criminal police (BKA) had been sent to Turkey to help local authorities find the hostages, who are said to be in good condition.

"We're not letting anyone threaten us," he said. "The PKK is banned as a terrorist organization and it will stay that way. We won't be blackmailed."

The Kurdish rebels accuse Germany of cooperating with Turkish authorities in their fight against the separatist movement, which demands a Kurdish state or at least an autonomous region in Turkey's southeast.

The PKK has been banned in Germany since 1993 and is considered a terrorist organization in the EU an the US. Berlin recently also banned the PKK's propaganda TV channel, Roj-TV.

Germany's federal prosecutor meanwhile authorized an investigation into the kidnapping as well as coercion of a constitutional body, namely the German federal government.

Fishing for attention

Turkish-German EU parliamentarian Vural Öger said that he didn't expect the hostage crisis to drag on for long.

The Social Democrat told Passauer Neue Presse daily on Friday that Kurdish rebels were probably trying to get the world's attention as a result of the kidnapping -- something they had already achieved by now. Öger also said that he didn't think the PKK's leadership was behind the abduction.