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Turkey: Kurds Wait For Iraqi Border to Reopen

RFE/RL correspondent Zamira Eshanova is in the southeastern Turkish border town of Silopi, close to the Iraqi border. The Turkish Army and Iraqi Kurds are both denying reports that Turkish troops have entered Kurdish-held territory in northern Iraq. Turkey says reports that more than 1,000 soldiers have moved into northern Iraq are false. Yesterday, Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul said troops would be deployed to prevent an influx of refugees and to prevent "terrorist activity." Turkey wants to block any attempts by Iraqi Kurds to create an independent state because it fears such a move could cause a Kurdish separatist movement in Turkey. In this Q&A, Eshanova talks about Kurdish aspirations for an independent state, the situation in the region, and hopes for a better future after the war in Iraq is over.

QUESTION: Are the Kurds in the area you are in anxious that they will soon have an independent state?

ESHANOVA: They don't want to hear about [an independent Kurdish state]. They say, "Oh, come on! This is a stupid dream," and nobody believes that there will be a Kurdish state any day because this was part of the PKK [Kurdistan Workers' Party] dream, and because of them we suffered so much.

QUESTION: Is there a visible military buildup where you are?

ESHANOVA: Here in Silopi there are tanks and I heard from local officials that at least 10,000 Turkish troops are deployed here in this small town and more convoys are expected to come, maybe tonight.

QUESTION: What is the socioeconomic situation where you are? What future do the Kurds in Silopi see after the Iraqi conflict is over?

ESHANOVA: They are suffering a lot because nobody has anything to do here. Hundreds and thousands of men, they are sitting in the streets and doing nothing because all their business was connected with Iraq. They were bringing some oil from Iraq, and a couple of months ago they completely shut the border and everybody is absolutely unemployed [now].