An EU counter-terrorism report presented to European interior ministers yesterday said cooperation with Turkey and other regional countries is "essential." EU counter-terror coordinator Gilles de Kerchove told ministers hundreds of foreign terrorist fighters have returned to Europe from war-torn countries like Iraq and Syria.
Between 2,000 and 2,500 more - around 50 percent of all foreign terrorists - remain in conflict zones like Syria.
"Those being currently sent back to Europe by Daesh to commit attacks are naturally regarded as a threat to security and a number of those have been involved in recent terrorist attacks and foiled acts," the report states.
It also warns that those who have remained and survived in war zones are now "dangerous and battle-hardened."
To combat the threat posed by these terrorists, the European report recommends better collaboration between the EU and Ankara, including "regular coordination meetings in Turkey and exchange of experience."
The report also recommends "strengthening the dialogue with Turkey on returnees" particularly on specific issues, such as information exchange, expulsion of returning foreign fighters and on escorting such suspects home.
It also confirmed that Turkey and Europe are developing polices in an anti-Daesh working group that "should inform the EU's approach to working with Turkey on the returnees file."
Turkey has been at the forefront of maintaining security on Europe's southern borders. Last December, then Interior Minister Efkan Ala told Anadolu Agency that Ankara had stopped thousands of terror suspects heading for Syria. Most suspects were stopped from entering Turkey at the border, while nearly 2,800 were arrested and later deported, Ala said. "Turkey has denied entry to 33,746 people from 123 countries suspected of joining terror activities in Syria," he added.