World Bulletin / News Desk
Terrorism can not be tolerated, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Thursday, ahead of a security conference in Munich.
"It's our [Turkey's] right to expect concrete steps" on counter-terrorism efforts, Cavusoglu said during an event organized by the Union of European Turkish Democrats (UETD) in Koln province. "We can't be slack on issues regarding terrorism."
Cavusoglu's remarks follow German Chancellor Angela Merkel's visit to Ankara, where she said her country was working on Turkey’s requests for the extraditions of fugitives of the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO).
During a joint news conference with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the chancellor said Germany needed "to have proof to take steps and measures” and the courts are evaluating the latest evidence Turkey sent.
Germany has a 3-million-member Turkish community as is among countries where FETO, led by U.S.-based Fetullah Gulen, has a large network of dozens of private schools, businesses and media organizations.
Turkey accuses FETO and Gulen of being the mastermind behind a deadly failed coup attempt last summer.
Along with an extradition request for FETO members, Ankara wants Berlin to take action against the PKK terrorist group in Germany.
According to Turkish authorities, the PKK obtains funding and fighters through NGO-looking organizations it established in Germany and the group actively conducts propaganda there.
But still, Germany has not taken steps to meet Turkey’s requests, Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said earlier this month following Merkel’s visit.
He blamed PKK and FETO members living abroad for an ongoing smear campaign against Turkey and its people, but said the groups would not succeed in their aims.
Addressing Turkey's foreign aid, Cavusoglu said last year his country ranked only behind the U.S. in contributions with $3.9 billion.
Turkey ranks first, however, if the evaluation is made based on gross national product, he added.
"The oppressed [people abroad] have expectations from us," he said. "We can't turn away those."
Cavusoglu said he was pleased to see Germany has maintained a different and better policy than other European countries regarding refugees, amid an increase of racism, xenophobia and anti-Muslim rhetoric throughout the continent.
The EU pledged 3 billion euros ($3.2 billion) in aid for Syrian refugees in Turkey and to resettle others in European countries, but the implementation has been slow due to bureaucratic hurdles and the opposition to refugee relocation from several EU states.
In contrast, Turkey hosts approximately 3 million Syrian refugees, more than any other country in the world. And it has spent around $25 billion to shelter and provide for refugees since the beginning of Syrian war in early 2011.
Cavusoglu rejected recent media reports that claimed imams working at mosques of the Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs had gathered information on FETO members and their institutions in Germany, and reported them to Turkey’s state Religious Affairs Directorate, or Diyanet.
The organization's official name is The Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (DITIB), which is controlled by Ankara and it manages 900 mosques or religious communities in Germany.
DITIB is a social organization established on German law, Cavusoglu said as he credited the group for the fact that there was not one radicalized person among the Turkish diaspora.
"Therefore, one can only thank DITIB," he said.
On Wednesday, German police searched the apartments of four Turkish imams as part of an investigation into alleged intelligence-gathering activities. The imams are accused of spying for the Turkish government in Germany by gathering information on members of FETO.
An upcoming constitutional referendum in April in which Turks will be asked to vote on changes proposed in an 18-article bill was also discussed by Cavusoglu.
"It guarantees stability and security in Turkey for the era after Recep Tayyip Erdogan," he said.
The proposals would hand wide-ranging executive powers to the president and abolish the post of prime minister. The president would also be allowed to retain ties to a political party.
Regarding the sudden apparent walkout of Cypress talks Thursday by Greek Cypriot leader Nikos Anastasiades, Cavusoglu said Turkey has and will always stand by Turkish Cypriot and its people in handling the decades-long issue over the island.
After attending G20 foreign ministers meeting in Bonn, Cavusoglu will head to Munich for the security conference and will hold bilateral talks.
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