Türkİye

Türkiye expresses concerns over Germany's counterterrorism efforts, expects concrete steps

Foreign Minister Cavusoglu urges Germany to maintain balanced stance in mediation between Ankara, Athens

Merve Aydogan   | 30.07.2022
Türkiye expresses concerns over Germany's counterterrorism efforts, expects concrete steps

ANKARA 

Türkiye on Friday voiced concerns over Germany’s counterterrorism efforts and said it expects concrete steps.

“We see an increase in (terror group) PKK’s activities in Germany, and have conveyed Türkiye’s concerns ... we expect concrete action,” Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said at a joint press conference with his German counterpart Annalena Baerbock in Istanbul.

He said counterterrorism actions were discussed during the top diplomats’ meeting, drawing attention to recent displays of banned PKK symbols and rags in Germany.

“I would like to emphasize that embracing terrorist organizations, especially PKK/YPG/PYD and FETO, is incompatible with the spirit of alliance,” he said, calling for “concrete steps and active cooperation” from Berlin.

Germany’s arms embargo on Türkiye is also against the “spirit of alliance,” he added.

Cavusoglu said Türkiye expects its allies to support its anti-terror efforts rather than just offering hollow words.

“Our expectation from our allies is that when they say ‘we understand your concerns,’ they actually contribute, not just verbally. If you want to fight Daesh (ISIS), you should be down on the ground. The YPG is not fighting Daesh,” he said.

In its more than 35-year terror campaign against Türkiye, the PKK – listed as a terrorist organization by Türkiye, the US, UK and EU – has been responsible for the deaths of more than 40,000 people, including women, children. and infants. The YPG is the PKK’s Syrian offshoot.​​​​​​​

FETO and its US-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup of July 15, 2016 in Türkiye, in which 252 people were killed and 2,734 injured.

Türkiye also expects the European Union to lift political obstacles for its membership to the bloc, Cavusoglu said, and also conveyed Ankara’s apprehensions over rising xenophobia and Islamophobia in Europe.

“We want the political obstacles … to be lifted. The European Union needs to take concrete and meaningful steps. The resumption of negotiations for the modernization of the Customs Union agreement and the implementation of visa liberalization are our most justified demands,” he added.

He emphasized that cooperation between Türkiye and Germany can make a major difference in resolving regional problems.

“As the strongest countries in Europe, we want to improve our cooperation on regional issues,” he said.

In response to a question, the Turkish minister criticized Germany’s position on the Osman Kavala case.

He pointed out that many European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) verdicts have not been implemented in France, Norway, Germany and Greece.

Cavusoglu said all Turkish citizens have the right to apply to the ECHR once all local sources have been utilized.

“The same applies to Osman Kavala,” Cavusoglu said.

“Why are you raising the matter about Osman Kavala? ... Because you are using Osman Kavala against Türkiye.”

Kavala faced charges over the 2013 Gezi Park protests, a small number of demonstrations in Istanbul that later transformed into nationwide riots which left eight protesters and a police officer dead.

He was acquitted of all charges in February 2020, but an appeals court overturned the verdict in January.

Kavala was also accused of involvement in the 2016 defeated coup orchestrated by the FETO in Türkiye.

On Türkiye-Greece relations, Cavusoglu said there are simmering issues between the two countries, particularly with regards to the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas.

He urged Germany to be wary of provocations and propaganda by Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration, stressing for the need for a balanced stance.

Referring to international treaties on the non-military status of Aegean islands, Cavusoglu said: “These islands were given to Greece with the 1923 Lausanne and 1947 Paris Peace treaties, but a condition was imposed on some islands. Greece cannot arm them, yet Greece violates these agreements and is arming them.”

The top Turkish diplomat criticized Greek militarization of Eastern Aegean islands, and lambasted Germany for siding with Athens “just because it is an EU member.”

He called out the EU for continually supporting Greece under the guise of unity despite all kinds of violations of international law and human rights.

Arguing that even Germany has lost its impartiality, Cavusoglu said: “Germany should keep its balanced attitude regarding the Aegean and East Mediterranean.”

The Turkish minister said that turning a blind eye to Greece's human rights abuses is violation of international law.

“Greece’s pushbacks, leaving people to die does not amount to protecting EU borders. It is inhumane to turn a blind eye ... I would’ve respected if the minister (Baerbock) mentioned about European Convention on Human Rights' decisions that have not been implemented in Greece for 14 years (on Turkish minority),” Cavusoglu said.

German Foreign Minister Baerbock acknowledged the PKK threat, appreciated Türkiye for hosting millions of Syrian refugees and called the recent grain export deal it reached with Ukraine, Russia, and the UN a “great success.”

Türkiye, the UN, Russia, and Ukraine signed in Istanbul a deal last week to reopen three Ukrainian ports – Odesa, Chernomorsk, and Yuzhny – for grain exports stuck for months due to the Russia-Ukraine war, which is now in its sixth month.

According to the agreement, a Joint Coordination Center was established to carry out inspections at the entrances and exits of harbors, and to ensure the safety of the routes.

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