Amid indications of efforts to improve the already strained relations between Turkey and Germany and the Netherlands, the public prosecutor in Ankara opened an investigation into information revealed by opposition lawmakers about plots to track and assassinate Turkish dissidents living in Europe.
Member of the Peoples’ Democratic Party of Turkey (HDP), MP Garo Paylan said during a parliamentary press meeting that he had received a tip-off about plans to assassinate Turkish citizens who oppose Turkey’s ruling regime and who are living in Europe.
According to Paylan, those dissidents include academics, journalists and opposition politicians, many of whom live in Germany.
Following Paylan’s remarks, the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office said in a statement that it had launched an investigation into the claims, calling on the HDP deputy to testify as a witness.
“I received intelligence last week over plans to assassinate several Turkish citizens living in Europe, especially in Germany. I have verified the information from multiple sources,” Paylan said.
The MP's statement coincided with the pro-government’s journalist Jam KuKuk’s calling for killing Turkish journalists in Europe for alleged links to exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Ankara accuses of masterminding a failed coup attempt in July 15, 2016. Gulen has denied the charges.
Turkish authorities arrested more than 60,000 people in a campaign following the failed coup attempt and dismissed over 160,000 others from various state institutions for alleged links to Gulen.
The campaign of arrests also included a number of Kurdish supporters in political, media and university circles. Thousands have fled Turkey to escape the possibility of their arrest for alleged links to the attempted coup.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has repeatedly accused Germany of becoming "a haven for terrorists," such as the supporters Gulen and the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).
In January 2013, three Kurdish activists were shot dead in Paris, and investigators pointed to the possibility that Turkish intelligence could be involved, which is denied by Ankara. The defendant, Omar Ghonei, died last year before the trial or even before the French investigators could find out who ordered the murders.
In November, the German government announced its intention to strengthen its cooperation with the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) to protect the Turkish opposition, after the Turkish government succeeded more than once in putting political opponents on Interpol’s wanted list.
This came following the arrest of Turkish-German writer Dogan Akhanli in Spain based on Ankara’s request.
German authorities intend to inform Interpol of te asylum status of individuals prosecuted by Turkey. There may be a large number of these individuals residing in Germany and pursued by Ankara through the Interpol.
Reports indicate that Kurdish writer Selim Curukkaya, who has lived for 20 years in the German city of Hamburg, has learned that his name is on Interpol’s wanted list.
Meanwhile, Germany hopes relations Turkey will improve as German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said Turkey’s decision to release a sixth German citizen from jail gave hope that relations between the two NATO allies could improve.
“Decisions such as these give hope that we can rebuild trust step by step and relax the bilateral relationship,” Gabriel said in a statement released late on Thursday.
The decision to allow David Britsch to return to Germany follows the release earlier this week of German journalist Mesale Tolu after nearly eight months in prison.
Gabriel said he had agreed with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu to continue talks given the “difficult issues” that still had to be resolved.
“Following recent rulings in Turkey, six persons have now been released from prisons or allowed to leave,” Gabriel said, indicating that in the case of the imprisoned journalist Deniz Yucel, the Turkish judiciary has at least made the conditions for detention easier, adding: “The next urgent step here is the presentation of an indictment.”
Meanwhile, German Foreign Ministry deputy spokeswoman Maria Adebahr announced that this is another positive signal.
She pointed out that both Turkey and German decided to move forward with bilateral meetings, which began in recent weeks, according to what both foreign ministers confirmed.
In related news, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has expressed his desire to fix “cold relations” between his country and Turkey.
"I think that it will be good if the relations [with Turkey] are fixed. Turkey is a NATO partner," Rutte said in an interview.
Last March, Dutch authorities canceled the flight permit of a plane carrying Turkish Foreign Minister and banned him and the Family and Social Affairs Minister Fatma Betul Sayan Kaya from Rotterdam from addressing the Turkish community in the Netherlands ahead of an April 16 referendum.