US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and other senior international politicians visit Turkey on Thursday to attend the global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF).
According to the Anatolia news agency, the GCTF meeting brings together foreign ministers and other high-ranking diplomats from the European Union as well as from 29 other countries. The coordination committee is co-chaired by Turkey and the US.
In an opening speech during the Ministerial-Level Plenary of the coordinating committee meeting of the GCTF, Davutoğlu said that while all countries are confronting the threat of terrorism, it is an unspoken reality that sometimes we have varying perceptions of threats and national priorities vis-à-vis terrorist organizations and offenders. He continued by noting that the fight against terrorism does not allow for complacency in regards to any particular terrorist organization, irrespective of national threat perceptions or priorities.
Referring to Turkey's past experience of destructive and malicious terrorist acts, Davutoğlu reminded listeners of Turkey's long-standing struggle against terrorism, which has claimed innocent lives in the country.
The foreign minister stated that Turkey cannot fight against terrorism only through military measures. “While the security component of the fight is critical, it is not alone sufficient to obtain the desired result. It is simply not possible to achieve lasting security at the cost of democratic freedoms. Hence, we have to preserve the critical balance between security requirements on the one hand, and democratic freedoms and basic human rights on the other.”
Davutoğlu also said that any counterterrorism strategy, no matter how successful on its own merits, can lead to tangible results only if it enjoys true international support. “Any loophole in this chain and terrorists will immediately zero in on that soft spot and capitalize on it,” said Davutoğlu, adding that counterterrorism strategies should be comprehensive and involve multiple approaches.
Recalling the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) terrorist organization's outrageous and indiscriminate attacks targeting the civilian population, Davutoğlu first extended his deepest condolences to bereaved families, expressing Turkey's solidarity with victims, then underlined the fact that Turkey will continue to fight PKK terrorism with full determination and in absolute compliance with the rule of law.
“We expect full support in this fight from the global community, in line with their international obligations. The PKK should not be able to continue its activities abroad, particularly in Europe under seemingly legal structures and façade organizations. Their continuing ability to do so is an affront to us all,” said Davutoğlu, characterizing the GCTF as signaling international determination to work together against violent extremism and terrorism.
Noting recent advances in the international community's fight against terrorism, Clinton said that the US is backing Turkey in all its counterterrorism efforts.
“The United States strongly stands with Turkey in its fight against the PKK and other groups," said Clinton, addressing the conflict in Turkey that has claimed tens of thousands of lives.
About international joint efforts to disrupt terrorist financing and improve international coordination, Clinton said, “Over the past decade 120,000 suspected terrorists have been arrested around the world and more than 35,000 have been convicted. Osama bin Laden is dead, al-Qaeda cells have been devastated. Our citizens are safe because of the work we have done together.”
Despite the progresses made on counterterrorism, Clinton admits the danger from terrorism remains “urgent and undeniable.”
The secretary of state mentioned the necessity of having a strategic and comprehensive approach to counterterrorism that integrates both military and civilian power and that uses intelligence, law enforcement, diplomacy, development and humanitarian resources. “We need to do more than remove terrorists from the battlefields. We need to attack financing, recruitment and safe havens. We need to take on ideology and diminish its appeal particularly to young people,” said Clinton, adding that improving conditions for women is important as their security is “a bellwether for society's security.”