Turkey condemns Belgian ruling denying terrorist designation for PKK

Turkey’s Foreign Ministry on Wednesday condemned a ruling by Belgium’s Supreme Court that said a Kurdish group that has led an armed struggle against the Turkish state since 1984 was not a terrorist organisation and blocked the prosecution of 36 people suspected of links to the group.

Turkey took the case against the 36 suspects to the Supreme Court after a lower court ruled last March that the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has fought for Kurdish self-rule in Turkey since 1984, was engaged in an internal armed struggle and could not be counted as a terrorist organisation.

The Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs said this week’s Supreme Court ruling “exonerates a terrorist organisation with ideological motives”.

Turkey holds the PKK solely responsible for more than 40,000 deaths in the conflict and views it as a terrorist organisation. The United States, European Union and other states also designate the PKK as a terrorist group.

But Belgian courts have found insufficient evidence to show that the group has launched attacks outside the area it defines as a conflict zone, instead defining the PKK and its armed wing as non-state actors involved in an intensive non-international conflict with the Turkish state.

"It is an example of hypocrisy; ignores the fact that terrorism poses threats to all nations and encourages other terrorist organisations," the ministry’s statement said, adding that the decision “is inconsistent with the acquis communautaire of the EU which Belgium hosts as a founding member".

"This decision is ideological and political. It is a hypocritical decision made by those who try to teach us law with fear," Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Twitter.

The Turkish government’s fight against the PKK has led it to two cross-border campaigns since 2018 in northern Syria, where it has fought Kurdish-led groups it says are linked to the group. The latest, last October’s Operation Peace Spring, was widely condemned by Turkey’s neighbours in Europe as it targeted groups that had been instrumental in fighting Islamic State.


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