Turkey demands Belgium contribute more in fight against PKK

Turkey demands Belgium contribute more in fight against PKK

Turkey demands Belgium contribute more in fight against PKK

Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders (2nd R) speaks to Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu (2nd L), flanked by (from L) Belgian Interior Minister Jan Jambon, Belgian Justice Minister Koen Geens and Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ, after delivering a press conference during a Foreign Affairs, Juscie and Interior Ministers meeting in Ankara on March 9, 2016. AFP Photo

Turkey has met all of Belgium’s expectations on issues concerning foreign militants, Turkish Foreign Minister said Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu after meeting his Belgian counterpart on March 9, while demanding Belgium contribute more to Turkey’s fight against groups outlawed by Turkey.

Çavuşoğlu’s remarks came during a joint press conference held after Turkey and Belgium’s respective foreign, justice and interior ministers met at an Ankara hotel for the meeting.

Turkey’s EU accession, cooperation against terrorism and the migrant crisis were discussed at the meeting. 

Çavuşoğlu said terrorism and foreign terrorist fighters were the first issues brought to the table. 

“In terms of foreign fighters, we meet all of Belgium’s expectations. We cooperate with Belgium on intelligence, information sharing and taking concrete steps. We want to see the same cooperation on the issues of other terror groups like the PKK [Kurdistan Workers’ Party] and the DHKP/C [Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front]. In our bilateral meetings, we tried to explain [to the Belgian counterparts] how the PKK and the DHKP/C are working together, the latest terror acts in Turkey and the relationship among the PKK, PYD and YPG,” said Çavuşoğlu. 

Belgian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Didier Reynders said the trials regarding terrorism were taking time in Belgium as the evidence concerning the allegations needed to be gathered clearly within the rule of law.

“As all countries, we try to balance citizens’ protection from terrorist acts and the subjects of individual rights and the privacy of personal rights,” Reynders said.

“Much more information needs to be shared. This is the most needed issue when dealing with various terror acts. We further enhanced information sharing during the last triple meeting,” said Reynders, citing Turkey’s demand for cooperation in the fight against terrorism.

Elaborating on Turkish-Belgian cooperation in Syria and Iraq within the coalition, Çavuşoğlu said both Belgium and Turkey have contributed to the training of forces fighting against the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) in Iraq. 

“It is important to fight against ISIL and other terrorist groups, but we will continue to work together for stability in Iraq and Syria, and we know that the best solution is a political one,” Çavuşoğlu said, highlighting that there were violations even in the cessation of the clashes during the Syrian cease-fire.

“We want a permanent cease-fire. Humanitarian aid should arrive timely, but we want the negotiations set to start today to be meaningful negotiations. This environment should be provided and clashes should be stopped as soon as possible,” said Çavuşoğlu.

Noting that Turkey’s expectations on visa liberalizations and the necessity of opening new chapters for the European Union accession had been delivered to the Belgian ministers, Çavuşoğlu said the Cyprus issue should not be made a pre-condition in Turkey’s EU accession process.

“We see the unfair accusations targeting Turkey... It’s as if this money is given to Turkey. It is as if Turkey is begging for money,” Çavuşoğlu said, referring to the recent deal signed between Turkey and the EU to settle the migrant crisis.

Turkey is hosting more than 2 million Syrians that have fled the five-year-old war in their homeland.