Turkey, EU find common ground in counterterrorism

European Union’s Counter-Terrorism Coordinator Gilles de Kerchove addresses a news conference in Brussels on September 5, 2011. (File photo by Reuters)
Updated 28 November 2017

Turkey, EU find common ground in counterterrorism

ANKARA: The EU’s Counter-Terrorism Coordinator, Gilles de Kerchove, is in Turkey to discuss cooperation with the Turkish government on new ways of preventing and countering violent extremism as well as draining terrorists’ financial resources.
Turkey has welcomed the European Parliament’s recent announcement of a list of individuals and groups prohibited from entering its premises. That list including the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the EU and the US.
The PKK’s activities in Europe — especially pro-PKK demonstrations in several European cities — have been strongly criticized by Ankara. Turkey has requested that the EU ban the display of PKK symbols and flags across Europe, but has been told that decision ultimately falls to each individual member state.
In March, the German government instructed its federal authorities to ban PKK flags and the public display of images of Abdullah Ocalan, the jailed head of the terror group.
Before the end of this year, the EU is set to open negotiations for agreements on the transfer of personal data between Europol and Turkey in a bid to improve mechanisms for preventing and fighting terrorism and serious crimes.
Cigdem Nas, secretary-general of the Economic Development Foundation in Istanbul, said cooperation against terrorism is a critical area in which the EU and Turkey can work together, particularly in intelligence sharing, controlling the movements of foreign fighters, battling extremism, and halting the funding of terrorism.
Turkey is not yet a member of the EU, although it has been negotiating for full membership since October 2005.
“Fundamentally, Turkey’s and the EU’s interests in the fight against terrorism converge, particularly in the fight against Daesh and all forms of extremism, as well as a more elaborate cooperation in searching out links between organized crime and terrorism,” Nas told Arab News.
She pointed out, though, that the two have differing views on the status of the Kurdish-led militia People’s Protection Units (YPK). While Turkey does not differentiate between the PKK and the YPK, several EU states see the YPK as “a legitimate actor in Syria” which has made a vital contribution to the fight against Daesh.
However, Nas said: “Now that Daesh’s threat has been largely exterminated, the approach of the US and several EU member states may also change.”
Nas also noted a fundamental divergence between Turkey and the EU on the definition of terrorism.
“The EU has asked Turkey to revise its anti-terror legislation in line with EU norms within the framework of visa liberalization dialogue,” she said, explaining that the EU has said Turkey should limit its definition to acts of terror, rather than including expressions of opinion.
“This reflects the problem that is (hindering) Turkey’s EU accession process — i.e. a drift away from the Copenhagen criteria,” Nas added.


Libya’s navy intercepts about 150 Europe-bound migrants

Updated 19 October 2019

Libya’s navy intercepts about 150 Europe-bound migrants

  • Three rubber boats with 148 Arab and African migrants were stopped off Libya’s western towns of Zuwara and Sabrata
  • Libya has emerged as a major transit point for migrants fleeing war and poverty to Europe

CAIRO: Libya’s coast guard says it has intercepted around 150 Europe-bound migrants off the country’s Mediterranean coast.
Spokesman Ayoub Gassim said Saturday the migrants had been returned to shore and would be taken to a detention center in the capital, Tripoli.
Gassim said the three rubber boats with 148 Arab and African migrants were stopped off Libya’s western towns of Zuwara and Sabrata Friday, and included 15 women and 11 children.
Libya has emerged as a major transit point for migrants fleeing war and poverty to Europe. In recent years, the EU has partnered with Libya’s coast guard and other local groups to stem the dangerous sea crossings.
Rights groups, however, say those policies leave migrants at the mercy of armed groups or confined in squalid detention centers rife with abuses.