Turkish president visits southeast to ease tensions

09:08, December 31, 2010      

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Turkey's President Abdullah Gul visited the predominantly Kurdish city Diyarbakir in the southeast on Thursday in order to ease recent tensions stemming from opposition to Kurdish demands for bilingualism and autonomy.

"We should work together in a constructive, positive manner in order to solidify our country," Gul told reporters in Diyarbakir.

He said the official language of Turkey is Turkish while embracing Kurdish as a "cultural heritage" of the country, noting that he was proud of different elements in the nation.

Gul's visit came amid a heated discussion over Kurdish politicians' autonomous demands, which came up two weeks ago with a draft study of the Democratic Society Congress (DTK), an umbrella organization for many pro-Kurdish politicians in Turkey.

The draft text, which was prepared for a potential new constitution in 2011, envisages Kurdish as a second official language, local parliaments for Kurds and a separate flag within the model of "democratic autonomy."

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