ANKARA – Hürriyet Daily News
The European Union worries there are nearly no officials left to speak with on issues of common concern following a purge over the graft probe
‘The recent steps [of reassigning or firing officers and prosecutors] are a matter of concern,’ says the commission. AFP photo
Recent replacements in the Interior and Justice Ministries over the graft probe have raised concern for some foreign countries which are engaged in cooperation with the Turkish authorities, such as cooperation with police on intelligence on security issues.
Diplomats from EU countries voiced concerns over the sustainability of cooperation and finding counterparts in these institutions since hundreds of officers in senior posts are being replaced.
“All of the changes and uncertainties create concerns that our cooperation in the future may slow down,” a senior EU diplomat told the Hürriyet Daily News.
“For instance, in terms of the fight against terrorism. We have concerns to ensure cooperation on the issue of foreign fighters in Syria continues,” said the diplomat.
Having worries for some joint projects between EU counties and the Interior and Justice Ministries, such as joint projects against corruption, the recent concern focuses on cooperation on EU citizens who use the Turkish border to cross into Syria in order to join radical groups fighting against forces of the Syrian regime.
As the number of foreign fighters that are joining al-Qaeda-linked groups fighting in Syria from EU countries, mainly Belgium, Germany, France, Netherlands and Britain are increasing day by day, EU capitals are willing to work closely with the Turkish authorities in order to prevent border crossings of their citizens using Turkey as a transit country. EU countries inform Turkish police of suspected militants to be detained in Turkey before they join jihadists in Syria.
From time to time Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu
reiterates a call for “better intelligence cooperation” with countries that foreign fighters are coming from. The minister earlier said that Turkey had asked Western countries to share intelligence on suspected militants so that Turkish authorities could stop them from entering the country.
On Jan. 8, the EU expressed concern about developments in Turkey where the government is embroiled in a massive graft scandal that has triggered a purge of the police.
“The recent steps (removing, reassigning or firing police officers and investigators) are a matter of concern,” said a Commission statement.
“We urge Turkey, as a candidate country committed to the political criteria of accession, including the application of the rule of law, to take all the necessary measures to ensure that allegations of wrongdoing are addressed without discrimination or preference in a transparent and impartial manner,” said the statement, adding that any action which undermines the effectiveness of investigations into these allegations should be avoided.
Earlier, EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule urged Turkey “to take all the necessary measures to ensure that allegations of wrongdoing are addressed without discrimination or preference in a transparent and impartial manner.”
Nearly 600 police officers, along with prosecutors, were replaced after a graft probe shook up the government on Dec. 17, when 24 people were arrested as part of the massive corruption investigation, including the sons of former Interior Minister Muammer Güler and former Economy Minister Zafer Çağlayan.