Washington briefing: Turkey launches Kurdish-language TV station, plans one in Armenian

by Emil Sanamyan

Published: Friday January 09, 2009

Washington - In a new public relations push targeting its largest ethnic minority, Turkish state television launched a 24-hour Kurdish-language station on January 1, Turkish and international news agencies reported.

The station TRT-6 is intended to compete with Denmark-based Roj TV, which is sympathetic to Kurdish rebel forces identified as the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and can be viewed in Turkey via satellite. Prior to the rise of satellite television, Turkey's Kurds relied on Armenia-based Kurdish-language radio.

For decades, Turkey refused to recognize Kurds as an ethnic group and prohibited public use of the Kurdish language. The government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyib Erdogan began to change that with TRT launching its first 30-minute Kurdish-language broadcasts in 2004.

Ahmet Turk, leader of the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party which boycotted TRT-6's launch, suggested that the move intended to strengthen the ruling party's electoral appeal among ethnic Kurds.

According to Turkish press reports carried by Regnum news agency, TRT will begin radio broadcasts in the Armenian language in February and is looking into launching an Armenian-language TV station by late 2009. Turkey would in turn permit TV broadcasts from Armenia.

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