TURKEY

Turkish rights head calls on Berlin to tackle terrorism

TURKISH RIGHTS HEAD CALLS ON BERLIN TO TACKLE TERRORISM

Head of Human Rights Commission says Turkey, Germany should have same priorities on terror

Terrorists should not be able to treat Germany as their "backyard", the head of Turkey's parliamentary Human Rights Commission said Tuesday.

Mustafa Yeneroglu, who grew up in Germany, spoke out in an interview with Anadolu Agency to echo criticism from Turkey that has heightened in the wake of last year's attempted coup.

Since the failed putsch, many of those suspected of involvement in the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), which Ankara has accused of being behind the coup bid, have sought refuge in Germany.

"Germany should not be the backyard of terrorist organizations which threaten Turkey's security and make attempts on the lives of Turkish citizens," Yeneroglu, a lawmaker in the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party, said.

"Parliament bombed, the plot to kill the president, 250 people martyred and people attacked by artillery on July 15 isn't something German politicians deal with," he told Anadolu Agency.

"Politicians who came to Turkey to visit the bombed out parliament used completely different words in Turkey than they did after they got back to Germany."

As well as hundreds killed, more than 2,200 were injured by rogue troops trying to seize power on the night of July 15 last year.

Even before the attempted coup, Turkey accused FETO, led by U.S.-based Fetullah Gulen, of trying to take control of the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police, and judiciary.

- FETO active in Germany

Yeneroglu, a University of Cologne law graduate, said Germany had not responded sensitively to the coup attempt and had failed to take action against suspected FETO members.

Around 4,000 FETO suspects fled to Germany after the failed coup, according to Turkish media reports.

Ankara has repeatedly requested the extradition of suspects, which the German authorities have denied while calling for firm evidence of alleged crimes.

FETO runs dozens of private schools, businesses and media organizations in Germany.

As well as FETO, Turkey has also accused Berlin in the past of turning a blind eye to the activities of PKK supporters and those linked to far-left terror groups active in Turkey.

In particular, the PKK has a large network in Germany, where it carries out significant propaganda, recruitment and fundraising activities.

The group has waged a terror campaign against Turkey since 1984 that has led to more than 40,000 deaths. It is a designated terror group in Turkey, the U.S. and EU.

"Fighting terrorism is an area in which every country should especially forge cooperation," Yeneroglu said. "On such an issue, when the subject is Turkey's security, it is troubling that Germany and Turkey don't have the same priorities."

- Recruiting militants

He added: "Germany hasn't objected to the PKK front groups active in Germany, PKK sympathizers, PKK fundraising in the country, as well as recruiting militants to the terror group.

"Politicians said the PKK is outlawed in Germany but they've done nothing to address the points in a report by the Federal Office for Protection of the Constitution."

According to the report, the PKK raised more than 13 million euros ($15.4 million) in Germany between September 2015 and early 2016.

The two countries have deep ties, with millions of ethnic Turks living in Germany and thousands of Germans holidaying on Turkish beaches every year. Trade between the NATO allies stands at around $36 billion a year.

However, in recent months, relations between Turkey and Germany have deteriorated over several issues, such as the arrest in Turkey of German nationals, including a human rights activist, and Berlin's failure to act against terror suspects.

Last month, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel warned companies against doing business in Turkey and cautioned tourists about visiting.

"It is a must that relations between the two countries should get better," Yeneroglu said. "Declining relations between the two countries, which have deep-rooted ties, are not sustainable.

"Both counties can take strength from each other. Turkey, with its young population, growing economy and its geostrategic position, and Germany, with its technology and strong economy, are very important partners.

"I'm hoping for a trend and rhetoric in German politics and media which shows empathy towards Turkey and also understands Turkey after the German federal elections [next month]."

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