Turkish President Erdoğan: Belgium should account for intelligence failures
ANKARATurkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused the Belgian authorities on March 25 of being soft on terror groups and said they should account for intelligence failures in the run-up to Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) suicide bombings in Brussels.
Erdoğan said European authorities had shown themselves "incapable" after Turkey deported one of the Brussels attackers last July but he was subsequently released.
The president has repeatedly equated the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) with ISIL, saying both are terrorist organizations and accusing Europe of failing to adequately condemn the PKK.
"They (the Belgians) are allowing members of the separatist terrorist organization to set up tents right next to the European Council, they allow pictures of terrorists to be displayed, they let their flags fly there," Erdoğan said.
"So, what happened? What happened, just two days later?," he went on, before condemning European authorities for releasing Ibrahim El Bakraoui, one of two brothers named by Belgium as responsible for March 22's attacks in Brussels, following his deportation from Turkey.
"Such incapable governments ... We detained this guy in Gaziantep, we deported him, sent him back. Those gentlemen didn't do what was necessary and released the terrorist," Erdoğan said in a speech in the central Turkish town of Sorgun.
"My brothers, terrorism is not the problem of a single country, it's the whole world's problem. God willing they'll understand that," he said.
Erdoğan said on March 23 that Belgium had ignored a warning that Bakraoui was a militant.
But Bakraoui was deported to the Netherlands, which said it did not realize he was a dangerous suspect as Turkey had “failed to follow normal procedures” when expelling him.
Dutch authorities on March 24 released a copy of a note from the Turkish foreign ministry, dated July 14, 2015, informing them of Bakraoui's deportation and flight details, but making no mention of the reasons for his expulsion or of his suspected links to militants.
Belgium's interior and justice ministers offered to resign on March 24 over the failure to track Bakraoui, but Prime Minister Charles Michel asked them to stay on.