Turkey, France to deepen anti-terror cooperation

Turkey, France to deepen anti-terror cooperation

ANKARA – Anadolu Agency
Turkey, France to deepen anti-terror cooperation

Turkish Interior Minister Efkan Ala (L) and French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve shake hands during a joint press conference after their meeting in Ankara. AFP photo

Turkey and France have agreed to boost their cooperation and coordination in areas of anti-terrorism and intelligence, according to France's Interior Minister.

"Combating terrorist activities should be our mutual goal and we need to enhance our co-operation and communication in this regard," French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve told a press conference in Ankara on Sept. 26 following a meeting with his Turkish counterpart, Efkan Ala.

Cazeneuve said that they seek to further deepen the relations between the intelligence and security departments of both countries in order to combat terrorism.

"We also discussed the issue of safer extradition of French nationals who are terror suspects," the French minister said, referring to the recent alleged "hiccup" concerning the hand-over of three French nationals who were suspected of fighting in Syria.

Three French nationals, who were arrested in Turkey in August on "residency violations," were deported to France Sept. 24. The returning trio evaded arrest by the French police when they landed in Marseille instead of Paris after being refused permission to board a Paris plane from Turkey.

The three men - among them the brother-in-law of Mohamed Merah, who is suspected to have been responsible for a March 2012 shooting spree in Toulouse in the country's southwest -turned up at a police station in the south of France, one of their lawyers Pierre Le Bonjour told BFMTV Sept. 24.

Turkey borders Syria, and some of those who sign up with Syrian militant groups have been using Turkey as a gateway.

"Turkey has always assumed an unflinching stance towards combating terror organizations and foreign fighters. To this day, 6,620 people from 81 countries have been banned entry [into Turkey], while 1,012 more from 73 countries have been deported," the Turkish Interior Minister Ala said.

"However, we expect countries of origin to prevent identified foreign fighters from leaving their countries in the first place, and inform Turkey in time," he said, adding that Turkey and France agreed to co-operate more effectively and to allow for "minimum error" in the fight against terrorism.

French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told France Info radio Sept. 24 that it was an "unfortunate initiative" from Ankara to send the three men -- expected in Paris -- to Marseille. Later he told reporters that Interior Minister Cazeneuve would be seeking to boost its cooperation and coordination with Turkey during a trip to Ankara "soon."

"This malfunction between Turkish and French services deserves comprehensive consultation between the French and Turkish authorities so that such incidents do not occur again," Cazeneuve said Sept. 26, adding that France would open an internal investigation to determine "the reason for the failure of the passport detection system."