Turkey, Germany holding counter-terrorism talks

Senior officials from Turkey and Germany are starting a two-day high-level meeting in Berlin on Wednesday to discuss security and counter-terrorism issues, and measures against the terrorist PKK and Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), according to diplomatic sources.

Muhterem Ince, Turkey's Interior Ministry undersecretary, and Emily Haber, Germany's state secretary at the Federal Ministry of the Interior, are co-chairing the meeting, said the sources, who asked not to be named due to restrictions on speaking to the media.

Turkey's expectations from Germany in the fight against terrorism and measures against terrorist groups such as the PKK and FETO -- the group behind the 2016 attempted coup -- are among the major items on the agenda, a senior Turkish official told Anadolu Agency,

The fight against the terrorist group Daesh, measures against foreign fighters, and cooperation against organized crime are among the other topics on the agenda.

The meeting will be the first top-level gathering between Turkish and German security officials after months of political tensions between the two countries which also undermined cooperation over security.

Ties between Ankara and Berlin were strained as Turkish politicians blasted their German counterparts for not taking serious measures against outlawed groups and terrorist organizations which use Germany as a platform for their fund-raising, recruitment, and propaganda activities.

German politicians, on the other hand, criticized Ankara -- especially before their general elections in September -- over the arrest of around a dozen German citizens, including a reporter, a translator, and a human rights activist, on suspicion of aiding and abetting terrorist groups.

Fight against PKK

The two countries took steps in recent weeks towards normalization, and intensified talks to address their political differences on a number of issues.

German authorities announced on Wednesday they have intensified investigations into PKK activities in the country.

The Federal Prosecutor's office, which is responsible for terrorism cases, opened 130 investigations against PKK activities in 2017, officials told German news agency DPA.

The prosecutors opened 40 such investigations in 2016 and only 20 investigations in 2015.

Turkey has called on German authorities to take more serious measures against the PKK, which is banned in Germany since 1993, and listed as a terrorist organisation.

The terrorist group has nearly 14,000 followers among Germany's Kurdish immigrant population, according to the German domestic intelligence agency BfV.

Mustafa Yeneroglu, a senior lawmaker of Turkey's ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party, has said such legal investigations were important, but inadequate in countering PKK activities in Germany.

Germany's domestic intelligence agency lists cover organisations of the PKK in its reports. It is the duty of Germany's Interior Minister to ban these organisations, to put an end to their activities, he tweeted.

The PKK carries out significant propaganda and fund-raising activities in Germany, according to domestic intelligence agency BfV's annual reports, which are available to public.

Apart from PKK, the activities of FETO in Germany remains a cause of friction between Ankara and Berlin.

FETO and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gulen are responsible for the July 2016 coup attempt in Turkey that martyred 250 people and left 2,200 injured.

FETO loyalists have managed to organize a large network, including dozens of businesses, private schools, and media organisations in the country.

Germany has a 3-million-strong Turkish community, many of whom are second- and third-generation German-born citizens of Turkish descent, whose grandparents moved to the country during the 1960s.

Source: Anadolu Agency