1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Security cooperation

Baha Güngör / als,mllFebruary 22, 2013

Turkish, Kurdish and radical religious terrorist groups are seen as a threat both in Germany and in Turkey. But cooperation between security and judiciary authorities is not as good as it could be.

People stand outside the entrance of the US embassy in Ankara after the explosion -/AFP/Getty Images
Image: Getty Images/AFP

German security services say there's no disagreement between Germany and Turkey in how they see the danger posed by terrorist organizations to public safety. Speaking to Deutsche Welle under condition of anonymity, the sources said that both countries share very similar interests in fighting terrorism, and they stress that the two countries have relatively good relations in the area of security. But they add that there is room for improvement.

German security experts also call it "intolerable" that organizations with a domestic Turkish agenda conduct their fight against Turkey in Germany. What they describe as "foreign criminal and terrorist elements" are not wanted in Germany, they say.

On the other hand, there are clearly marked, serious differences between the German and Turkish judiciaries in the understanding of the rule of law, so that deportation or extradition can only occur rarely, despite Turkey's formal requests.

Erdogan accuses Germany of negligence

Following the suicide bombing attack on the American embassy in Ankara on February 1, the Turkish prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, again accused Germany of being "negligent in the fight against terrorism." In an attack on February 1 by the extremist left-wing group Revolutionary People's Liberation Front (DHKP-C), the bomber killed one guard along with himself. It later emerged that the bomber had lived for many years in Germany, and had just returned to Turkey before the attack.

Erdogan again criticized Germany over the killing of three women activists of the militant Kurdish organization PKK in Paris on January 10, pointing out that one of the women had been arrested in Germany in 2007 and had been released despite a Turkish extradition request. "This carelessness and indifference can no longer be accepted," said Erdogan. 

Erdogan during a news conference REUTERS/Osman Orsal
Erdogan has criticized German laxity over terrorismImage: Reuters

The German sources say that extradition requests usually fail on the ground that they lack clear evidence for the crimes which are said to have been committed in Turkey. The reason given for the requests is often inadequate.  The German authorities complain that they cannot simply deport or extradite people "to order." Often it's the courts that prevent deportation, since they regard the human rights situation in Turkey as inadequate.

'The problem lies in Turkey'

Members of the Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK), which is defined as "terrorist" in the EU as well as in Turkey, are careful not to carry out any violent acts in Europe. So are the 650 supporters of the much less well-known DHKP-C. Turkish security agencies often provide information that such organization are involved in drug dealing or other means of raising money to help the fight against Turkey, but the German authorities don't find it convincing - either in content or form. So such information can not be followed up.

The German security agencies are aware that there are "hawks" in the PKK, but the majority are "doves" who are more prepared to negotiate. They see the source of the problem in the socially and economically backward east and southeast of Turkey, where social problems led hopeless young men to join the PKK or other extremist organizations. That meant that any solution had to start there.

People carry the coffins of the Kurdish activists who were shot in Paris REUTERS/Umit Bektas
No-one yet knows who killed the PKK activists in ParisImage: Reuters

New term: 'jihadist' instead of 'Islamist'

Religiously motivated radicals operate differently from those of the political groups. Their targets are not restricted to Turkey, but they have a transnational agenda. German security circles had begun to replace the term "Islamist" with the term "jihadist" when talking about these radicals, even though Islamic scholars disagree over whether jihad, or struggle in God's name, really refers to armed struggle, or whether it refers to defense of the religion or stands for an expansionist approach.

The security sources said that, as they saw it, jihadists have no hesitation in carrying out attacks on German or European soil, which meant that the Muslim communities had to take on responsibility for the fight against terrorism. The legal Muslim organizations had an obligation to ban hate preachers from speaking in their mosques.