Dutch gov't silent on failure to cooperate against terror

ALI ÜNAL @ali_unal
ANKARA
Published 11.04.2016 22:31

Senior government officials from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Dutch Ministry of Security and Justice have declined to comment on questions raised by Daily Sabah as to whether the Dutch government neglected and even ignored Turkey's effort to cooperate with its Dutch counterparts on counter-terrorism.

An article published in the Dutch news outlet nu.nl last week claimed that the Dutch Minister of Security and Justice Ard van der Steur promised to create a special working group of Dutch and Turkish officials to cooperate in the fields of counter-terrorism, foreign fighters and drug-related crime after a visit to Turkey in November 2015; however, that promise did not lead to action. Moreover, the Dutch news outlets reported that the Ministry of Security and Justice confirmed that the group has never met and, after five months, cooperative efforts have ended.

Under the principle of maintaining journalistic objectivity, Daily Sabah contacted the spokesman of the Dutch Ministry of Security and Justice, Mr. Edmond Messchaert, as well as the spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Roel van der Meij; however, senior government officials refused to comment on the issue.

The Netherlands' lack of cooperation with Turkey on counter-terrorism issues also came to the fore during a discussion in the Dutch parliament last week. Van der Steur faced criticism from opposition parties over a cooperation task force that failed to be realized between the Netherlands and Turkey. The leader of the Dutch opposition party (PVV), Geert Wilders, said that the terrorist attacks in Brussels could have been prevented if Van der Steur had taken action, while the leader of the CDA Sybrand Buma said that he wonders whether Van der Steur was negligent in his efforts to prevent terrorism.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced last month that one of the attackers in the Brussels bombings on March 22, which left 35 people dead, was detained in the southern province of Gaziantep near the Syrian border and was later deported to the Netherlands. Turkey also notified Dutch authorities, according to President Erdoğan.

The Dutch counter-terrorism service (NCTB) also investigated claims made by both Turkey and Belgium that one of the Zaventum airport suicide bombers had been sent back to the Netherlands last year. After the investigation, it was revealed that one of the Brussels bombers, Ibrahim El Bakraoui, was indeed deported to the Netherlands and Turkish officials transmitted an electronic message regarding the extradition.

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