The Turkish government is more or less happy with the efforts and cooperation of the French government this time in cracking down on the murders of three female members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in Paris on Jan. 9. Of course, making a small note of recent history, from the Armenian Secret Army (ASALA) murders to PKK attacks on Turkish targets in France, Turkish officials underline that especially the secret services of the two countries – Turkish National Intelligence Organization (MİT) and French General Directorate of Foreign Intelligence (DGSE) – have demonstrated “exemplary” cooperation and performance. One ranking Turkish source said on the condition of anonymity that the personal dedication of the current French administration led by French President François Hollande, who said he personally had known and met one of the killed members of the PKK, might have played a positive role on the quick proceeding of this case.
Turkish government sources believe that as a surprise byproduct of the murders, the whole PKK organization in Europe, especially in Western Europe, has been exposed in the eyes of the public with all their links to European governments and political parties, despite the police warrants and court rulings against them. The PKK, of course, being an experienced organization, knows and uses all the bypasses, black holes and short cuts of the European legal framework, and European politicians who do not want this Middle Eastern fight to hit their own streets tend to turn a blind eye on certain facts.
Three Turkish Cabinet members – the foreign, interior and justice ministers – are expected to have talks with their Belgian counterparts on Jan. 22 in order to demand more cooperation from Brussels, which also hosts the headquarters of both the European Union and the Western defense alliance NATO; Brussels is an obvious headquarters for PKK diplomacy and its finance network, too. The latest example was observed when Gültan Kışanak, the co-chairwoman of the Kurdish problem-focused Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) of the Turkish Parliament, which shares the same grassroots as the PKK, flew to Brussels to talk to and convince Zübeyie Aydar there about the talks started by the Turkish government with the jailed leader of the PKK, Abdullah Öcalan. Aydar, himself is a former member of Turkish Parliament and now a leading figure of the PKK in Europe, had actually attended the (then secretive) Oslo talks between MİT and the PKK back in 2010 and is also on the ‘narcoterrorism’ black list of the U.S. Treasury. And not only the PKK. Fehriye Erdal, a confessed murderer of a leading Turkish industrialist, Özdemir Sabancı, and his secretary, Nilgün Hasefe, back in 1996 is still living in Belgium having faced a minor charge despite Turkish demands for extradition for years; she is a proud member of the People’s Revolutionary Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C), against which a major police operation is underway nowadays in Turkey.
If Turkish and Belgian authorities reach an agreement with solid outcomes, that could be a start for the other European countries, Ankara hopes.
This article was published in the Hurriyet Daily News on Jan. 22, 2013.
Murat Yetkin is the current editor-in-chief of Hurriyet Daily News and a columnist for Radikal, a Turkish publication. He is a political commentator on Turkish and Middle Eastern affairs and has previously worked for BBC World Service and AFP. He can be found on Twitter: @MuratYetkin2.