DAVUTOGLU : MOBILISING BELGIUM CONTRA PKK / Turkey to Seek Belgian Aid for Fight on Terror

22 January 2013 –  ANKARA – JTW – Ankara and Brussels will hold exclusive talks today as three Turkish ministers aim to convince their Belgian hosts of the need for greater cooperation against the PKK, which is active in the country.

even ministers from Turkey and Belgium will hold a summit in Brussels today to boost cooperation in the anti-terrorism fight, with the parties expected to sign two agreements amid Ankara’s efforts to convince its European partners to do more against recognized terrorist groups. The foreign, justice and interior ministers from both countries will hold one day of intensified talks as a result of Turkey’s strong pressure on Belgium following years of tension over the latter’s inaction against a number of terrorist organizations operating on its soil.

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin and Interior Minister İdris Naim Şahin will represent Turkey while Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders, Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Joelle Milquet, Justice Minister Annemie Turtelbloom and State Minister Responsible for Migration and Integration Maggie De Block will represent the host country during the meetings. Prominent members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and of some illegal leftist organizations like the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C) are known to be residing in Belgium.

The parties will sign a protocol on cooperation among the police departments of the two countries and issue a joint declaration on justice cooperation. Collaboration on issues like migration and the fight against organized crime will also be discussed between the countries’ ministers. The meetings were planned long before the killings of three PKK militants in Paris on Jan. 9, sources said.

Turkish-Belgian ties have suffered from a lack of cooperation in the past mainly because of the incompatibility of the two countries’ laws. The most important crisis occurred when Belgian authorities refused to extradite Fehriye Erdal, the suspected murderer of leading businessman Özdemir Sabancı, after she was arrested in Belgium in 1999. She was released from prison in 2000 and has been on the run since 2006.

Home to 200,000 Turks

Belgium is home to nearly 200,000 Turkish citizens, a significant portion of whom are of Kurdish descent. While in Brussels, Davutoğlu is also expected to hold meetings with the EU’s commissioners for home affairs, Cecilia Malström, and for enlargement, Stefan Füle. Belgium is central to the PKK and other groups in terms of conducting political propaganda and managing different affiliations throughout Europe. Zübeyir Aydar, a prominent leader in the PKK’s European structure, resides in Brussels, where he recently welcomed Gültan Kışanak, co-chair of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP).