Questions arose over the accuracy and fairness of Europol’s European Union Terrorism Situation and Trend Report 2023 (TE-SAT) as it faces criticism for its unbalanced portrayal of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and several serious omissions.
In response to the report, the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) Spokesman Zagros Hîwa told Medya News on Saturday, “The report prioritises the economic and political interests of European countries and the US, rather than relying on valid data. This approach legitimises the state-sponsored terrorism of Erdoğan’s Turkey while criminalising the Kurdish struggle for basic natural and democratic rights.”
The report, which was released on Wednesday 14 June, claims to provide a comprehensive and current overview of terrorism within the EU. However, the accuracy and fairness of its section on the PKK have faced scrutiny, along with significant omissions that raise concerns about the report’s objectivity.
The PKK was added to the EU’s list of terrorist organisations in 2002 at the request of Turkey, a NATO member. In 2008, the EU’s Court of First Instance deemed the inclusion of the PKK on the terror list illegal due to insufficient justification. This decision was further supported by the Court of Justice in Luxembourg in 2018, which ruled that the PKK had been unjustly included on the EU terror list between 2014 and 2017.
Moreover, Belgium’s Foreigners Litigation Council concluded in 2022 that the acts committed by the PKK cannot be regarded as terrorist acts as a whole, as the party is engaged in a non-international armed conflict subject to the laws of war rather than criminal law.
The TE-SAT report fails to acknowledge any of these developments, while disproportionately focusing on the PKK. This bias seems to be a result of the Turkish government’s recent increase in pressure on Europe, utilising the refugee issue and exploiting the NATO membership bid of Scandinavian countries.
The report vaguely mentions the conviction of one individual in Italy and four in Germany for PKK-related offences, without providing specific details about the nature of these offences. As a result, Kurdish forces, who have played a crucial role in combating “jihadist terrorism” as acknowledged by the report’s claim of improved European security compared to the previous year, are unjustly lumped together with these other groups. KCK spokesman Hîwa reacted, saying, “The report neglects the fact that it was the PKK which spearheaded the struggle against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, particularly in Sinjar and Kobane, and more than 6,000 of its members sacrificed their lives to save humanity from Erdoğan-sponsored ISIS terror.”
The report glaringly omits the mention of a significant incident: the attack on a Kurdish cultural centre in Paris in December of last year. Despite acknowledging that the threat from right-wing terrorism remains significant, the report fails to include this specific attack. It is noteworthy that the attacker openly professed far-right views and explicitly stated that he carried out the attack with racist motives. The Turkish government’s involvement in assassinations across Europe has been a cause for concern, with Hîwa stating that Turkish President Erdoğan “is the one who has issued various multi-coloured lists of individuals to be assassinated, whether in Paris, Brussels, Iraq, Syria, or any other part of the world.”
The report also neglects to address the impact of far-right Turkish factions throughout Europe, with a particular focus on Germany. These factions are closely linked to the Turkish government’s systematic efforts to expand its influence in European politics through various networks. Prominent organisations like the Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (DİTİB), Osmanen Germania, and the Grey Wolves have consistently been recognised by European intelligence agencies and policymakers as posing a direct threat to European security.
The DİTİB, established in 1984 as an extension of the Turkish state, is one of Germany’s largest Islamic organisations, funding around 900 mosques in the country as of 2016. Osmanen Germania, a Turkish-nationalistic and extreme-right criminal gang, emerged between late 2014 and April 2015, and was subsequently banned by the Federal Ministry of the Interior in 2018 after engaging in various violent crimes. The Turkish government’s efforts to enhance its presence within the Turkish diaspora and the Muslim community in France are deemed a threat to national security, as highlighted in a recent report by the French National Assembly commission of inquiry, which implicated Turkey to a lesser extent in incidents following the assassination of Samuel Paty.
Another questionable aspect of the report is the criminalisation of internationalist solidarity, where individuals who travelled from Europe to Syria to support Kurdish forces against ISIS are depicted as a terrorist threat, omitting the crucial fact that they were fighting against ISIS.
KCK spokesman Hîwa further suggested that European countries should focus on addressing terrorism within their own ranks rather than conducting extensive search operations, pointing out Erdoğan’s actions and policies as a significant threat. He criticised the report for granting “exclusive right to the dictator in Turkey to kill the Kurds wherever they are, while at the same time criminalising the right of the Kurdish people to defend themselves against the state-terror of Erdoğan’s Turkey.” Hiwa emphasised the legitimacy and righteousness of the Kurdish freedom struggle and called on European countries to prioritise human rights over economic interests and recognise the true nature of terrorism.