World Bulletin / News Desk
Several Turkish and Belgian government ministers committed Wednesday for deeper their cooperation against terrorism, they said in a joint press statement.
The Turkish and Belgian ministers of foreign affairs, justice, interior, and asylum and migration met Wednesday in Turkish capital Ankara to discuss "the fight against terrorism, police and judicial cooperation, as well as consular matters and migration management", the statement said.
This was the third meeting between Turkey and Belgium at the ministerial level, after the ones held in Istanbul in 2008 and Brussels in 2013.
The ministers "confirmed the determination of their respective governments to fight this scourge and to further develop cooperation in countering terrorism in all its forms and manifestations".
The statement also said that the ministers regard the migration and refugee crisis in the region as a growing challenge that gets deeper in line with the continued conflict in Syria, and that can only be overcome through genuine burden-sharing and cooperation.
Speaking at a joint press conference after the meeting, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said, “We (Turkey) have met all Belgium’s expectations on the issue of foreign terrorist fighters.”
Cavusoglu said Turkey is cooperating with Belgium on intelligence, information-sharing, and taking concrete steps.
“We want to see the same cooperation in other terror organization issues, such as the PKK and DHKP-C,” he said.
Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders told reporters the meeting’s discussions were focused on the fight against terrorism and all terrorist organizations listed by the EU, such as ISIL, the PKK, and the DHKP-C.
“For so many years we have discussed the PKK and the DHKP-C…and of course we have explained that there are so many procedures in Belgium like in other countries to try to find all those possible terrorist activities, if there is evidence and facts about some specific people,” Reynders said. “Of course we need to do that with full respect for the rule of law.”
He added: “In all our countries we try to find a way to renew the equilibrium between protecting citizens against those terrorist attacks and individual rights and privacy.”
Cavusoglu said that despite Belgium’s attention to the extradition of common criminals, “We can’t say it is showing the same sensitivity on the issues of the PKK and DHKP-C.”
“We do not want to interfere in anyone’s internal affairs. But we have to avoid double standards (in the fight) against terrorists and terror organizations,” Cavusoglu said.
Hundreds of Belgian young people left Europe and joined the ISIL terror organization in Syria and Iraq, with some returning to carry out terrorist attacks in France and Belgium.
Belgium issued its highest alert level last November following the Paris terror attacks that left 130 dead. Several suspects who were involved in the Paris attacks were arrested in Brussels.
In addition to ISIL, Turkey is especially concerned about the activities of the terrorist PKK and DHKP-C in Belgium.
DHKP-C has carried out many assassinations and suicide bombings in Turkey, while PKK has resumed its 30-year armed campaign against the Turkish state in late July 2015.
Since then, more than 290 members of the security forces have been martyred and thousands of PKK terrorists killed in operations across Turkey and northern Iraq.