German FM acknowledges Turkey's PKK concerns, stresses need for more measures

DAILY SABAH WITH AGENCIES
ISTANBUL
Published 04.06.2017 22:08

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel on Sunday acknowledged Turkey's concerns regarding the PKK terrorist organization's activities, saying that it is for the benefit of Germany to not let the PKK to conduct its activities in Germany as the terror organization run many illegal rings across the country.

Speaking to Germany's Bild am Sonntag daily, Gabriel indicated that Turkey has the right to bring its concerns about PKK activities to the agenda.

"The PKK is a banned [terrorist] organization in Germany too, since it is deeply involved with arms trade, drug traffic and racketeering. So, it is also beneficial for Germany to eradicate the organization's financial sources and not let them to have any operational space in Germany. Turkey is right for bringing this issue to the agenda," Gabriel said.

Turkey has long criticized Germany for not taking serious measures against the PKK, which is carrying out propaganda, recruitment and fundraising activities from the country.

The PKK has more than 14,000 followers in Germany and raised more than 13 million euros ($14.3 million) in 2015, according to reports from the domestic German Intelligence Agency (BfV).

The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S., and the EU. During its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, more than 40,000 people have lost their lives.

Meanwhile, the German foreign minister also said on Saturday that he will use his upcoming visit to Ankara to mend ties with Turkey.

"We are seeking ways to normalize relations with Turkey," top diplomat Sigmar Gabriel told reporters in St. Petersburg.

Gabriel is due to travel Monday to Ankara, where he is scheduled to meet Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu.

Tension between Turkey and Germany rose last week after a German parliamentary delegation was not allowed to visit the Incirlik Air Base, where German troops are stationed.

The move came in response to Germany's attitude towards Turkish deputies during the recent constitutional referendum period where Turkish officials were barred from holding meetings in Germany, drawing strong reaction from the Turkish government.

In addition, Germany's uncooperative stance regarding the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) has also been a source of tension as the country has been a safe haven for hundreds of FETÖ members, including high-ranking NATO military officers.

The two countries went through the same crisis almost a year ago. A German parliamentary Defense Commission delegation was not allowed to pay a visit to the Incirlik Air Base after the Bundestag adopted a controversial resolution regarding the Armenian events of 1915.

Since 2015, Germany has stationed around 260 troops, six high-tech Tornado surveillance jets and a tanker aircraft at İncirlik Air Base.

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