The Royal United Services Institute and the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs co-hosted an international conference entitled “Combating International Terrorism: Turkey’s Added Value” on the 6 March 2009.
These high-level roundtable discussions provided an opportunity for a focused analysis of Turkey’s wider contribution towards global counter-terrorism efforts, the various elements of the threat faced by Turkey, implications for regional and collective security, as well as highlight Turkey’s international commitment to combating terrorist activity.
Terrorism is commonly viewed as one of the greatest single threats to global security, with the tendency in recent years having been to portray such threat as stateless and globalised. While transnational in their reach and support-base, many terrorist networks continue however to exert violence based on national political objectives and/or regional agendas. Turkey’s long-running experience of dealing with PKK separatists, as well as wider fundamentalist terrorism, provides the country with valuable insight to be shared with European partners. Indeed, parallels of experience can be drawn with European attempts at countering both nationalist/separatist movements and global jihadist extremism.
In response to terrorist activity by Kurdish separatists, Turkey has carried out border operations in Northern Iraq since March 2008, attracting much attention in terms of how this would impact on regional stability. Yet, far less has been made of Turkey’s wider contribution to combating terrorism in terms of international peacekeeping, providing border security to the EU or even Turkey’s diplomatic engagements in the Middle East, such as with Syria and Iran.
Beyond national efforts, combating terrorism however also requires highly-coordinated mechanisms for cooperation between allies and partners. With terrorist groups finding refuge across borders or relying on illegal financial networks, Turkey would benefit from further international recognition and support towards its counter-terrorism activities.
Based on the UK’s long-term CONTEST strategy, conference panels were structured around its four main pillars: PREPARE, PERSUE, PREVENT and PROTECT as they apply to Turkey and from the United Kingdom’s perspective, bringing government representatives and subject experts together to explore the issues and ways of tackling them.Session one: PREPARE for the terrorist threat and its consequences
Keynote: Minister Inan Ozyildiz, Deputy Director General - Directorate General for Security Affairs, Turkey Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Chairman: Michael Clarke, Director of RUSI
Speakers: Nihat Ali Ozcan, Security Policy Analyst – TEPAV
Jim McKee, Counter Terrorist and Extremist Liaison Officer, British Embassy in Ankara
Session two: PURSUE terrorists and those that sponsor them
Chairman: His Excellency Mr Yigit Alpogan, Turkish Ambassador in London
Speakers: Professor Yonah Alexander, Director of International Center for Terrorism Studies – Potomac Institute for Policy Studies
Robert Walter MP, President of the European Security and Defence Assembly and Rapporteur on “Terrorist activities on the Turkey/Iraq border”
Dr Ihsan Bal, Head of the ISRO Centre for International Security, Terrorism and Ethnic Conflict Studies
Session three: PREVENT terrorism by stopping people becoming or supporting terrorists
Chairman: Tobias Feakin, Director of National Resilience and Security, RUSI
Speakers: Dr Gülnur Aybet, Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Kent
Tony Heal, Deputy Head, Prevent Unit, UK Office for Security and Counter Terrorism (OSCT)
Anne Speckhard, Adjunct Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Georgetown University Medical School
Session four: PROTECT the public, key national services and critical infrastructures
Chairman: Steve Cummings, Special Adviser to Deloitte Security, Privacy and Resilience Practice
Speakers: Jim Evans, Director of Risk Consulting, G4S Risk Management
Mitat Celikpala, Vice Chairman, Department of International Relations, TOBB University
Gareth Winrow, Private Analyst, Oxford