According to diplomatic sources, the wide-ranging operations were joined by Italian, French and Belgian security forces, acting on tips from Turkey.
“We have been preparing since August 2009. Whenever we complained about insufficient support from the EU, some European colleagues used to rebuke us, saying ‘You fail to provide concrete evidence on time,’” a high-ranking diplomat told reporters at a roundtable meeting Friday in Ankara.
“Turkey has provided intelligence to three countries,” the diplomat said. “However, what made these operations possible was the establishment of a new mechanism between the Justice and Interior Ministries for a swift exchange of intelligence and documents.”
Turkish police did not play a role in the operations but provided tips, the source added.
“We will also kick-off the legal process to ask for the extradition of those arrested,” the diplomat said, referring to Remzi Kartal and Zübeyir Aydar, two leading figures in the PKK network in Europe who were deputies from the outlawed Democracy Party, or DEP.
Turkish diplomats highlighted “the changing attitude of Belgian authorities” and expressed appreciation for the U.S. role in orchestrating these operations.
Belgium and Turkey have confronted each other in another terror-related case in the past, when a Belgian court declined to describe the Turkish Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front, or DHKP-C, as a terrorist organization despite an EU decision to classify it thusly.
Although Ankara had long pressed Brussels to do so, the court refused to extradite Fehriye Erdal, a leading suspect in the 1996 murder of industrialist Özdemir Sabanci. Erdal was convicted in absentia.