EU Affairs minister Egemen bağış has urged European countries to cooperate with Turkey in its counterterrorism efforts against the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which he claimed was “the largest human and illicit drug trafficking network in Europe,” a comment that came on top of piling resentment of Turkish officials toward Europe for indirectly financing the organization.
“Europe needs to cooperate with Turkey to end this network of drugs and human trafficking [the PKK] now,” Bağış told a private television news station on Tuesday before he left for Brussels on a two-day visit to meet with European officials and discuss Turkey's EU progress. Noting that it would greatly benefit Europe's own problems regarding drug trafficking, Bağış said it was high time for Europe to realize that cooperating with Turkey “would indeed work in their favor” and save the European youth from drugs, a major issue that he claimed was largely connected to the PKK trafficking ring across Europe.
Bağış also criticized European countries for adopting an indifferent attitude and not bothering to solve the PKK problem “unless it came banging on their doors,” as he acknowledged that PKK sympathizers in many European countries have extorted money from people using threats and blackmail, an issue that “urgently needs to be addressed by the EU member countries' intelligence agencies.”
Landing another blow of criticism on Wednesday, Bağış also noted that the eurozone crisis had resulted from a lack of coherence from some EU member countries toward the economic criteria of the bloc, and said Turkey was an example of the fact that “only governments with a strong backing from their people” can manage to survive crises, and that this is what happened in Turkey back in the days when the country had to revive its collapsed economy.
In relation to Turkey's fight against PKK terrorism, Bağış also defended the trials of the Kurdish Communities Union (KCK), which Turkey considers an urban wing of the PKK, saying that “no parallel states may exist in states founded on law, which the KCK is practically all about.”
Last month, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan lashed out at Europe, particularly German foundations, for indirectly funding the PKK through municipal authorities, the main suspects in the KCK investigation, which has been the focus of criticism from Europe.
“In a state of law, no one can come and say they will establish their own state; this is a statement that neither the US nor EU countries would bow to,” Bağış further added to explain why Turkey is trying hard to bring such “parallel establishments” to justice.
During his visit to Europe, Bağış met with EU commissioners and officials to discuss Turkey's progress toward EU membership, where he had a particularly significant gathering with EU Commissioner for Enlargement Stefan Füle regarding “the positive agenda” Turkey is projected to have with the EU in 2012, the Anatolia news agency reported earlier this week.
In Brussels, Bağış delivered a conference on “Turkey in Europe” at a university on Wednesday, after which he was expected to move on to the Latvian capital city of Riga to give another conference on the same topic and meet with Latvian President Andris Berzins along with Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics to discuss bilateral and Turkish-EU relations.
Bağış was then scheduled to proceed to Estonia to meet with the country's prime minister and foreign minister, according to Anatolia.