News Analysis: Turkey adds pressure on EU to crack down on terrorist networks

2013-02-13 22:11:16 GMT2013-02-14 06:11:16(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

ANKARA, Feb. 13 (Xinhua) -- Turkey has ratcheted up pressure on the European Union (EU) member countries to crack down on long- running terrorist networks that are operating in their territory with impunity.

Ankara alleges that the EU has for years turned a blind eye to the activities of terror groups that target Turkish citizens and interests using the logistical support and funds garnered in the EU soil.

For the last two weeks, the outspoken Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has not let up his intense criticisms of the EU for failing to take the necessary measures to prevent the outlawed Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK) and far-left Revolutionary People's Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C) from operating on their territory.

Both PKK and DHKP/C were listed as terrorist organizations by Turkey, the EU, and the Unites States.

"The government has recently launched talks with the jailed leader of the PKK in order to pave a way for the disarmament of the group. It does not want any renegade faction in Europe to derail the process," political analyst Idris Gursoy told Xinhua.

"Since the PKK front organizations commands huge financial network in Europe, the government fears that some may not be interested in laying down the arms or give up huge money business. By putting pressure on the EU, Erdogan wants action on PKK finances in Europe," he said.

Erdogan's strategy may have worked well as Spanish and French authorities have arrested 23 alleged members of the PKK on charges of extortion to raise money for the terrorist organization. German authorities have filed charges this week against a PKK suspect who was the former head of financial affairs for the illicit group.

The PKK raises money in Europe under the labels like donations or membership fees in the amount of hundreds of millions of euros. But in fact, these are funds obtained through extortion and illegal taxation. The organization is also involved in money laundering, drug and human trafficking, as well as irregular immigration inside and outside the EU.

Professor Aytekin Geleri from the Ankara-based Institute of Strategic Thinking (SDE) told Xinhua that the Turkish prime minister is drawing attention to the global aspect of combatting with the terror.

"It is rather naive that this is a national issue. You need the support of international partners. Unfortunately, the terror threat in Turkey has grown because of double-faced politics from the EU," he said.

"There is a strong support from all circles in Turkey for the resolution of the PKK terror in the light of recent talks," Geleri said, adding that Erdogan is calling on the EU member states once again to adopt unambiguous stand against the PKK.

In the aftermath of the U.S. embassy bombing by the DHKP/C in Ankara on Feb. 1, Turkey was emboldened to bear more pressure on the EU as it feels it can now enlist more vigorous support from Washington against the common enemy. The suicide bomber who blew himself up at the front gate of the U.S. embassy was the member of the DHKP/C and was living in Germany before illegally entering Turkey.

The Turkish media reported that Germany had turned down an extradition request for many terror suspects sought after by the Turkish police including the suicide bomber at the U.S. embassy.

Some analysts believe the Turkish prime minister's flurry of criticisms against the EU might have been motivated partially by the upcoming election campaign period for the local, presidential and national elections, all lined within close calendar dates.

Emre Uslu, a Turkish expert on politics, said that Erdogan chose the EU as his current political enemy for the election campaign purpose. "It is very likely that he will continue this fight against the EU to make sure he has a solid enemy to rally public support as he enters into a new election campaign," he said.

Uslu noted that Erdogan, aware of the waning public support for the EU accession process, wanted to tap into the frustration of Turks to make the most out of it on the election day.

Erdogan has repeatedly said that Turkey could intensify its efforts to seek membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) instead of the EU if the process with the latter was halted altogether.

The PKK, which is fighting for greater autonomy for Kurds, has waged almost three decades-long struggle against the Turkish state in which more than 35,000 people have been killed.

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