Euro-Mediterranean Cooperation in the Field of Justice and Anti- terrorism. Recommendations for Barcelona Plus
Chatham House, London, 14 September 2005
Cooperation in the Euromed area could be examined in two chapters: 1) Among the EU countries, and 2) between the EU countries and the sub-Mediterranean countries of the Euro-Mediterranean cooperation.
I believe that cooperation among the EU countries is relatively easy. However some difficulties may still arise between the new and old members of the EU, because legislative infrastructure may still differ to a large extent. I believe that, if there are still discrepancies in this field, the EU may adjust its acquis to make the legal infrastructure more suitable for a closer cooperation.
Sometimes, harmonized legislation may not suffice to prepare the ground for cooperation. Political will is the most important factor. My observations show that some countries are inclined to unnecessarily politicize this subject and this affects negatively the quality of cooperation.
We do not know yet whether the traditions in the field of judiciary of the new member countries of the EU will affect the quality of the cooperation.
As to the cooperation between the EU countries and the sub-Mediterranean countries, the cooperation may prove even more difficult for two reasons: 1) Difference between legislative infrastructures and judiciary traditions; and 2) the definition of terrorism.
The reason why it is difficult to agree on a common definition of terrorism stems from the fact that EU countries and the Arabs see the acts of the Palestinians from different angles. More efforts are needed to close the gap in this subject.
Difficulties stemming from national legislations
Stable democracies in Western Europe have a legislation that protects fundamental rights and freedoms more than many other countries of the world. This difference kept the western European countries in a distinguished place for a very long time, as far as the protection of human rights are concerned. But recent London bombings indicate that terrorists used the extensive freedom prevailing in the United Kingdom to their advantage. They provided the necessary explosives for their acts of terror, they stored them in their houses in the suburban London and finally they carried out their acts partly because this environment was suitable for their purpose. After the London bombings, the British government seems to have come to the conclusion that some additional restrictions may be introduced in the British legislation in order to fight terrorism more efficiently.
From the press reports, I understand that, for instance, praising terror, in other words the non violent expression of opinion, will be made a punishable act. This may look like a step taken in the negative direction in the field of human rights, but I don’t see it that way. If the human rights are used by a terrorist or his supporter, in order to kill or promote the idea of killing an individual, more restrictive measures to these rights will certainly be justified. Therefore, additional legislative measures may be necessary to fight terrorism in a more effective manner at the national level.
Mutual Assistance in judicial matters
Another area of cooperation in the fight against terrorism is the mutual assistance in judicial matters. Here again, the political will becomes the most important factor for the efficiency of the cooperation. The existence of bilateral or multilateral agreements in this field may not suffice if the political will to cooperate does not exist.
The difficulties stemming from the difference of judicial systems and traditions may also play a negative role in this field and this may make the cooperation impractical.
Extradition is another means of cooperation to fight terrorism. Request for extradition may not be fulfilled easily between the north and south of the Mediterranean, because of the big difference between the judicial systems. The existence of the death penalty makes this cooperation all the more difficult or even impossible.
Drying up the Financial sources
Terror needs substantial financial means to achieve its goals. These financial means accrue from various sources, such as drug smuggling, illicit traffic in human beings and extortion and others. Such acts are already banned in almost all countries. Therefore additional measures may not be needed to make them punishable.
However, terrorist organizations avoid the legal prosecution by collecting funds under the guise of charity or cultural associations. Some governments do not ban the activities of such associations either because they genuinely do not know that these organizations are actually involved in terrorist activities or because their legislation does not allow to do it or because they find it politically expedient to close their eyes. A lot of good will will be needed to draw the dividing line between benign and malignant activities. A closer cooperation in this field at the international level will contribute to drying up one of the most essential means of terrorist organizations.
The countries that do not do enough to cooperate in this area should be persuaded that it is not ethical to refuse cooperation on the grounds that terrorists do not harm their interests. If we allow this to happen, terrorists will spare such countries and use them as a safe heaven from where they conduct all their ominous activities.
Many acts of terror are carried out with sophisticated weapons manufactured in the industrialized countries. It is not easy to convince the industry to give up its financial profits, but if we want to be consistent, we should be able take a bold action in order to block the supply of such weapons to the terrorist organizations. The manufacturing companies do not of course deliver the weapons directly to the terrorist organizations. But since the source of the delivery is known, it must not be difficult to follow up the transfers of the weapons to the subsequent purchasers. If there is political will, it will be possible to trace the path that the weapons follow to reach the hand of terrorists. It is not convincing to claim that this is not feasible.
One of the important elements in fighting terrorism is to identify properly the root causes of terror. Do we have accurate idea on what pushes a suicide bomber to sacrifice the most valuable asset that he possesses: his life. Is it his religious education? Is it his being alienated by others or an offence that he or “his group” was subjected to? Or is it a combination of all of these elements? I do not know whether any of the distinguished participants in this has a convincing explanation for this strong drive that pushes a suicide bomber to give his life in exchange of something that we do not understand what exactly it is. None of the explanations that came to my knowledge was convincing enough.
The EU partners of the Barcelona Process may wish to enrich their perception of the root causes by adding to theirs the perceptions, that of the countries of the south of the Mediterranean. If we identify more accurately the root causes of terror, we are more likely to take right decisions to counter it.
Definition of terrorism
One of the impediments for the cooperation in the fight against terrorism is the absence of a common definition of terror at the international level. This is all the more important for the cooperation in the EuroMed area, because agreement for a common definition of terrorism is particularly difficult between the EU countries and sub-Mediterraneans.
In view of the fact that progress could not be achieved since several years on the common definition of terrorism, we may perhaps turn to a less ambitious task. A modest progress was actually achieved on this subject. This progress consists of leaving aside the complicated task of defining terrorism. It takes up the act of terror irrespective of its motives, and says that every act of terror should be punished. No reasonable civilized individual would oppose to see an act of terror punished, whatever its motives may be. This approach is developed by various think tanks active in this field, but I do not know whether it is already reflected in any international instrument. Therefore the distance to be covered is still long. It looks like an expression that we have in Turkish which says: “Now that we have one horseshoe, all what we need is to find three more horseshoes and a horse”. This is where we stand, in my opinion, in the fight against terrorism.
Thank you for your attention.
Whether we agree or not, certain terrorist organizations link their action to the absence of a just and equitable solution of the Arab-Israeli conflict. This linkage is only partially true, because we cannot expect that all terrorist activities will come to an end when Arab-Israeli conflict will be solved. There are terrorist activities that are not connected to the Arab-Israeli conflict. However one of the pretexts will be taken off the hands of those who claim so when the Arab-Israeli conflict is solved. Therefore, it is worth trying for the EU and the US to do their best in order to contribute to the solution of this conflict.
EU Contribution to the Barcelona Process
Euro-Med has taken several initiatives in the past, with limited success, to promote cooperation in this field. The reason of the failure cannot be reduced to one or two elements. Lack of the desire of the Arab countries to cooperate with Israel was mentioned in the past, as one of the reasons, when the EU Commission was assessing the performance of the Euro-Med 5 years after it was launched. The EU is doing its best to help facilitate the Middle East Peace Process by trying to promote political, economic and cultural cooperation within the framework of the Barcelona Process. But, in the Middle East Peace Process the trump cards are in the hands of the United States and not in the EU’s hands, because the key player in the MEPP is Israel and the EU has little leverage on Israel while the US has more.
In the field of economic cooperation, some of the steps taken by the EU within the framework of the Barcelona Process, namely the establishment of a Free Trade Zone at the scale of the Mediterranean, have started to bear fruits. This step, coupled with positive developments such as the implementation of the MEPP Road Map, may contribute to the establishment of a more suitable environment for cooperation.
Concrete and Small Steps
One of the deficiencies of the steps taken so far within the framework of the Barcelona Process was that the selected targets were too general and vague. Targets should be realistic to achieve. Small steps approach proved to be more realistic in the international relations. This does not need to be to the expense of ambitious long term strategies.
When it turns out that a target is difficult to achieve, sufficient flexibility should be shown to give it up and turn to other solutions. Unnecessary insistence on one target may antagonize the partners of the cooperation.
We have to avoid unnecessary generalization when we define our task. For instance, democratization is important to eliminate the root causes of terrorism. However London bombings taught us that terror may also breed in a democratic society. It is true that terrorism may recruit more adherents in lower income groups, but terrorists manage to find suitable environment in a relatively wealthy society like Saudi Arabia. by attributing terrorism to a group of people who have nothing to do with terror, will antagonize the entire group and will push them to the other side at a time when we need their support more than ever.
The method of elimination of the root causes will differ according to how we identify these causes.
EUROMED çerçevesinde bir gün sürecek olan ve 21 Eylül tarihinde düzenlenecek olan toplantının ilk bölümü genel kurul düzeninde gerçekleşecektir. Son bölümünde katılımcılar üç atölye çalışması formatında bir araya geleceklerdir. Terörizmin yapısal, mali veçheleri ile kişileri terörist olmaya iten unsurların irdeleneceği bu toplantılardan kendi seçeceği birine ülkemizin başkanlık etmesi prensipte uygun bulunmuştur.
Turkey has always promoted the idea that terrorism should be regarded as a human rights violation. No matter what pretext terrorists may use for their deeds, terrorism in all its manifestations and forms should be treated as a crime against humanity. 9 Eylül 2005
TBMM AB UYUM KOMİSYONU BAŞKANI SAYIN YAŞAR YAKIŞ’IN, “BARSELONA SÜRECİNİN 10 YILI: AVRUPA-AKDENİZ BÖLGESİNDE ADALET VE TERÖRİZM” KONULU KONFERANSTA YARARLANABİLECEKLERİ KONUŞMA NOTU
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is indeed a big pleasure for me to address this important gathering, on the occassion of the 10th Anniversary of Barcelona Process.
I would like to express my sincere thanks to Chatham House and the EuroMeSCo Secratariat, for organizing this important activity under the auspices of the British Presidency of the European Union.
Since the end of the Cold War, everyone has been trying to figure out the new configuration the world would be moving towards. Everyone has been eager to define the basic components of the “new world order”. But I suppose until the terrorist attacks in New York, Istanbul, Madrid, Sharm El-Sheikh and most recently in London, virtually no one could imagine that the “new world order” would be shattered before it was even built. These attacks have shown us that, our threat perception is now more difficult and complicated compared to the past.
The threat perception has moved to the way of life, of thought and belief of those that portray or view themselves as “the other”. This time, “the other” does not identify with a particular ideology, but a feeling of exclusion and hatred.
Unfortunately, certain circles are attempting to present all these terrorist attacks as signals of a “war of civilizations and religions”.
However, the attacks in Istanbul and Sharm El-Sheikh have clearly demonstrated us that, terrorism does not make any distinction in targeting any religion and geography.
I am of the opinion that, any attempt to couple terrorism with any religion, especially with Islam would in fact play into the hands of terrorists.
Being Muslims, Jews, Christians, Buddhists and even being atheists, we may have different world pictures, different values and justifications concerning shard values and norms. But this should not prevent us from creating a human climate for a creative and peaceful human co-existence based on shared values.
In today’s world, terrorism remains to be a major threat to all countries without exception.
Everybody accepts the fact that, terrorism has no particular religion, race, nationality or a specific geographic region. The terrorist attacks during the last four years once again proved that terrorism cuts across geographic, political and religious boundaries.
For this reason, theinternational community must adopt a uniform approach in identifying, defining, condemning, isolating and bringing before justice those who are responsible, including countries that sponsor and harbor them.
It should not be forgotten that, no one can ensure immunity from international terrorism which we can defeat only through effective solidarity.
We must act together on a common platform and take concrete and determined steps to eradicate terrorism.
No matter what pretext terrorists may use for their deeds, terrorism in all its manifestations and forms should be treated as a crime against humanity.
Turkey, which has suffered from various kinds of terrorism for more than four decades, has always been in the forefront in the fight against terrorism in every fora and will remain so.
However, I regret to say that, many terrorists who have been convicted in Turkey are allowed free conduct in some of the European countries, hidden behind the cherished value of human rights.
I cannot construe such a contradiction at a time, when a strong solidarity and cooperation is more needed than ever in combatting against terrorism.
If messages of solidarity are admitted only in words, and not reflected to deeds, they cannot remain credible.
One of the main obstacles for humanity to live together in peace and freedom in the 21st century could emanate from the lack of understanding among societies. We should not permit this to happen. We must allow collective wisdom to foster in a genuine manner that does not raise mutual suspicions among societies. We must demonstrate our good will with our actions.
As a secular state with a population whose great majority belongs to the Islamic faith, we on our part will continue to work vigorously for bringing about an atmosphere of common understanding and cooperation based on shared values among nations belonging to different faiths.
In this regard, from the very beginning we have supported the Barcelona Process, which could serve as an efficient mean to bring about a better understanding of the values and cultures in the Mediterranean basin.
We haveattached importance to all activities aimed at strengthening relations between the two sides of the Mediterranean.
If you allow me to give a concrete example,Turkey started three and a half years ago in line with its efforts to foster dialogue and cooperation among civilizations.
As you recall, following the tragic events of September 11th and the subsequent developments, Turkey had organized and hosted the Joint European Union-Organization of Islamic Conference Forum on 12-13 February 2002 in Istanbul. It was a very successful meeting and various leaders from member countries pointed out that the meeting created mutual understanding in various issues between the European Union and the Organization of Islamic Conference.
However, the Second Joint Forum could not be met due to the well known reasons and we missed an opportunity.
Before concluding my remarks, I would like to touch upon the future EU membership of Turkey, which I believe is a potential asset for the transformation of the EU into a truly multi-cultural and multi-religious geography.
As of 3 October 2005, Turkey will start accession negotiations with the European Union. In my opinion, this will be an important landmark with regard to EU’s strategic partnership with the Mediterranean.
When Turkey takes its place among the EU members,the Union will be more capable to promote understanding and harmony among cultures and will avoid reappearance of deeply rooted racial and religious prejudices.
Having the unique privilege of being the only link to the Islamic culture at the edge of the Western geography and vice versa, Turkey’s membership will be a message not only to the Islamic and Christian worlds but to the whole world that there is no need to talk any more on “clash of civilizations”.
Thanks for your attention.