March 11, 2019 / 3:32 PM / 3 months ago

Turkish foreign ministry summons Belgium's ambassador in Ankara

ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkey’s foreign ministry summoned Belgium’s ambassador in Ankara on Monday after a Belgian court blocked the prosecution of some 30 people with alleged links to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a foreign ministry official said.

The court of appeal in Brussels ruled on Friday that the defendants could not be prosecuted for participating in the activities of a terrorist group because it said the PKK is not a terrorist organisation.

Belgian law says that terrorism label does not apply to forces engaged in an armed conflict, even though the European Union, United States and Turkey have all designated the group which has waged an insurgency in Turkey since the 1980s.

Some 40,000 people have been killed in the conflict.

Turkey’s foreign ministry said on Friday the Belgian court ruling was unacceptable.

“This decision, as it stands, provides the terrorist organizations with a very dangerous area of exploitation,” the ministry said.

On Monday the foreign ministry summoned the Belgian ambassador, Michel Malherbe, and relayed Turkey’s unease over the decision.

Relations between Turkey and European Union states worsened following a 2016 failed military coup, after which Ankara accused Europe of not supporting it sufficiently and of harbouring individuals allegedly involved in the attempt, as well as the PKK.

Reporting by Tulay Karadeniz and Philip Blenkinsop in Brussels; Writing by Ezgi Erkoyun and Ali Kucukgocmen; Editing by Dominic Evans and Angus MacSwan

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