Zero tolerance for terrorism everywhere: Turkish FM in Cologne

Zero tolerance for terrorism everywhere: Turkish FM in Cologne

Zero tolerance for terrorism everywhere: Turkish FM in Cologne

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Terrorism cannot be tolerated anywhere, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Feb. 16 ahead of a security conference in Munich.       

“It’s our [Turkey’s] right to expect concrete steps [on counter-terrorism efforts],” Çavuşoğlu said during an event organized by the government-linked Union of European Turkish Democrats (UETD) in Cologne. 

“We cannot be slack on issues regarding terrorism,” he added.       

Çavuşoğlu’s remarks follow German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s visit to Ankara, where she said her country was working on Turkey’s requests for the extradition of fugitives of the Gülen movement, accused of being behind the July 2016 failed coup attempt.

During a joint news conference with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Merkel said Germany needed “to have proof to take steps and measures” and the courts are evaluating the latest evidence Turkey sent.  
Along with an extradition request for Gülenists, Ankara wants Berlin to take tougher action against alleged outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) members in Germany.       

After attending the G20 foreign ministers meeting in Bonn, Çavuşoğlu will head to Munich for the security conference and will hold bilateral talks.

Turkey voices optimism about US relations under Trump  

Meanwhile, Çavuşoğlu voiced optimism on Feb. 16 for closer cooperation with the U.S., following his first face-to-face meeting with new U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. 

“The new [U.S.] administration is aware of the mistakes of the previous administration. We will continue to work together to find ways to correct those mistakes and to develop more powerful strategies,” state-run Anadolu Agency quoted Çavuşoğlu as telling reporters after his meeting with Tillerson in Bonn, Germany. 

The two men held a bilateral meeting on the margins of a G20 foreign ministers’ meeting, which brought together top diplomats from the world’s 20 largest economies. 

Çavuşoğlu said he had a frank discussion with Tillerson on the mistakes of the Obama administration, such as its support for the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), which Turkey regards as a terror organization due to its ties to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), in northern Syria plus Washington’s reluctance to extradite U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen, who the Turkish government accuses of orchestrating a failed coup attempt in July 2016.

“These have had a deep impact on our relations, and negatively influenced the feeling of Turkish people toward the United States. This has increased anti-Americanism. We have to address these problems,” Çavuşoğlu added. 

He also said regional issues were discussed with Tillerson, including efforts for a political solution in Syria, the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and developments in Iraq. 

“We have had a very fruitful meeting, in a constructive atmosphere. This has been a good start,” he stressed. 

Çavuşoğlu underlined that high-level meetings between U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration and the Turkish government would continue this weekend, with Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım’s planned meeting with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence on the margins of the Munich Security Conference. 

Recalling that Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan recently held a telephone conversation, Çavuşoğlu said talks are currently underway to organize a meeting of the two leaders in the near future.