Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu told reporters on Thursday that he had discussed the extradition of “a terrorist” allegedly affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) with his Serbian counterpart.
Serbia has already lent support regarding several alleged followers of Fethullah Gülen, who Turkey holds responsible for several attempts to topple the government, according to the minister. “There is somebody affiliated with the PKK, a terrorist. We asked for support in his extradition today,” Çavuşoğlu said.
After the apparent reference to Kurdish activist Ecevit Piroğlu, the Turkish minister spoke about “strengthening cooperation” between the two countries over irregular migration and “stability and peace in the Balkans”.
Piroğlu’s legal status has been a hot-button issue for both Turkey and Serbia recently.
Piroğlu has been a leftist activist since 1992, and is a former chairman of the İzmir branch of the prominent Human Rights Association (İHD). He was arrested several times over his activism, and in 2018 ultimately left Turkey for Serbia, following charges of terrorism due to his participation in the massive nationwide anti-government protests of 2013, dubbed the Gezi Park protests. At the height of Syrian Kurds’ fight against jihadist forces, Piroğlu travelled to northern Syria to fight against the Islamic State (ISIS).
Serbian police arrested the activist on 25 June 2021 in Belgrade, and he has been in custody since. His appeal for asylum was rejected.
Turkish authorities have been pressuring Serbian authorities to extradite Piroğlu.