Turkey, Germany kick off two-day security dialogue to counter Gülen, PKK
Senior officials from Turkey and Germany kicked off two days of high-level meetings in Berlin on Jan. 17 to discuss security and counter-terrorism issues, including measures to be taken against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and sympathizers of U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen, state-run Anadolu Agency has reported, citing diplomatic sources.
Turkey’s Interior Ministry undersecretary Muhterem İnce and Emily Haber, Germany’s state secretary at the Federal Ministry of the Interior, are co-chairing the meeting, said the sources, who asked not to be named due to restrictions on speaking to the media.
“Turkey’s expectations from Germany in the fight against terrorism and measures against terrorist groups such as the PKK and the [Fethullahist Terror Organization] FETÖ, the group behind the 2016 coup attempt, are among the major items on the agenda,” a senior Turkish official said, echoing the Turkish government’s view on the July 2016 coup attempt and the Gülen network.
The fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), measures against foreign fighters, and cooperation against organized crime are among the other topics on the agenda.
The meeting is the first top-level gathering between Turkish and German security officials after months of political tensions between the two countries, which also undermined cooperation over security.
Ties between Ankara and Berlin were strained as Turkish politicians blasted their German counterparts for not responding to their requests to stop PKK activities in the country.
German politicians have blasted Ankara over the arrest of around a dozen German citizens, including a reporter, a translator, and a human rights activist, on “terror” accusations.
Fight against PKK
Ankara and Berlin have taken steps in recent weeks towards normalization, intensifying talks to address political differences on a number of issues.
The German authorities announced on Jan. 17 they have intensified investigations into the PKK activities in the country. The Federal Prosecutor’s Office, which is responsible for terrorism cases, opened 130 investigations against PKK activities in 2017, officials told German news agency DPA. Prosecutors had opened 40 such investigations in 2016 and only 20 investigations in 2015.
The PKK has been banned in Germany since 1993 and is listed as a terrorist organization.
The German domestic intelligence agency, the BfV, estimates that the PKK has around 14,000 followers among Germany’s Kurdish immigrant population. Its reports, which are publicly available, also state that the PKK carries out considerable propaganda and fund-raising activities in Germany.
Mustafa Yeneroğlu, a senior lawmaker from Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), has said the latest legal investigations are “important but not enough” in countering PKK activities in Germany.
“Germany’s domestic intelligence agency lists cover organizations of the PKK in its reports. It is the duty of Germany’s Interior Minister to ban these organizations, to put an end to their activities,” Yeneroğlu tweeted.
Germany has a Turkish community of around three million people, many of whom are second- and third-generation German-born citizens of Turkish descent, whose grandparents moved to the country as “guest workers” during the 1960s.