Turkey-EU maintain dialogue on cooperation areas

Turkey-EU maintain dialogue on cooperation areas

Sevil Erkuş - ANKARA
Turkey-EU maintain dialogue on cooperation areas

Turkey and the European bodies will engage in a series of dialogues in the forthcoming weeks as part of efforts to maintain their dialogue on cooperation areas, despite ongoing bilateral problems between Ankara and some European Union member states.

Turkey’s Minister of Transportation Maritime Affairs and Communications Ahmet Arslan will participate at the Turkey-EU high-level transport dialogue meeting on Nov. 27.

The next day, Ankara and Brussels will host separate meetings to discuss crucial topics for bilateral relations. The Turkey-EU association committee will convene on Nov. 28 in Brussels for talks covering all dimensions of bilateral relations at the technical level.

On the same day, Ankara will host EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator Gilles de Kerchove for a counterterrorism meeting. Together, Ankara and Brussels will seek further cooperation in preventing and countering violent extremism, terrorism financing and links between organized crime and terrorism.

Turkey focuses on measures against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front (DHKP-C), the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ), and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Ankara considers PKK activities in Europe a high priority issue on Turkey’s counterterrorism agenda and seeks to ban activities and PKK symbols across Europe.

Brussels wants to extend the ban to symbols of the PKK but this decision will ultimately be made by national governments, an EU official told Hürriyet Daily News earlier. “If a group like the PKK is listed as a terrorist organization, it means that anything that shows support for them—symbols, flags or whatever—amounts to propaganda for them and should also fall under the same ban. So we are proposing to member states that they should also extend this ban to symbols and flags,” the official noted.

Dealing with criminal offenses falls within the competence of EU member states, with the latest example being Germany, who instructed its district offices to ban PKK flags a few months ago.

However, the practice divergent perceptions of most EU member states on what defines terrorism remain a challenge for joint action under the framework of the union, said another diplomat familiar with the talks.

The Turkish government believes the Gülen movement was behind the failed coup on July 15, 2016 and demands extradition of many of its members who fled Turkey and who are seeking asylum in Europe. Ankara accuses the EU for not helping it fight against terrorism and of even harboring “terrorists,” as the union had failed to meet Turkey’s expectations regarding the PKK and FETÖ.

Turkey has presented files as evidence to Germany and the Netherlands in regards to cases of FETÖ charges, but the documents were considered “circumstantial evidence, while substantial evidence is required for local prosecutors there,” an EU official said.

On the bilateral economic agenda, the Turkey-EU high level economic dialogue meeting will convene in Brussels on Dec. 7-8, with the participation of two ministers, including the customs minister, at the helm of Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Şimşek.

A planned energy dialogue meeting scheduled for Nov. 20 was postponed due to Energy Minister Berat Albayrak’s presentation to parliament on the annual budget.