The Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned Belgium's ambassador in Ankara on Monday over a Belgian judicial decision it said had blocked prosecution of people with alleged links to the PKK terrorist group.
Diplomatic sources said that Ambassador Michel Malherbe was informed of Turkey's discomfort over the decision of the Belgian Chamber of Indictment in favor of an earlier ruling by a lower court that 36 people and legal entities linked to the PKK, including the European ringleaders of the terrorist group, cannot be tried within the scope of counter-terrorism legislation. Malherbe was also handed a diplomatic note.
The decision came after the Federal Prosecutors Office appealed an earlier decision. Prosecutors argue that the ruling contradicted Belgium and the EU recognizing the group as a terrorist organization. Suspects in the case are accused of kidnapping children from their families in Belgium and other European countries and sending them to Greece and Iraq for training before putting them into the ranks of the PKK's military wing. They are also accused of forging documents and extorting businessmen.
Following the incident, Turkey condemned the decision on Friday. "Despite evidence submitted by the Federal Prosecutor of Belgium on the PKK's terrorist nature, this decision, as it stands, provides terrorist organizations with a very dangerous area of exploitation," the spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Hami Aksoy said in a statement.
NATO ally Belgium was expected "to act in line with (its) counter-terrorism responsibilities," it added, saying Turkey will use its right to appeal against the decision in the Belgium Court of Appeals.
In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK, recognized as a terrorist group by Turkey, the U.S., and the EU, has been responsible for the deaths of some 40,000 people, including women and children.