Turkish Parliament to Begin Debate on Terror-Finance Law

Turkey’s parliament started debating a draft law to combat terrorist financing today as the country seeks to avoid suspension by a key Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development group.

The OECD’s Financial Action Task Force has given Turkey until Feb. 22 to adopt the legislation. Turkey has been under pressure to pass the measure over the past six years.

“Turkey faces the risk of being suspended and the risk of being blacklisted along with Iran and North Korea,” Finance Minister Mehmet Simsek told lawmakers. Turkey will ask countries to provide detailed reasoning for requests to freeze assets of suspects, he said.

Turkey accuses European states of turning a blind eye to requests to crack down on Turkish militants, including the Kurdistan Workers’ Party or PKK, and failing to extradite suspects. Government lawmakers like Hakki Koylu, deputy chairman of the parliament’s Justice Commission, say that Turkey’s definition of terrorism differs from that of Western countries.

Turkey’s insistence on reciprocity contradicts international standards, said Jean-Charles Brisard, a terrorism financing expert with JCB Consulting International based in Switzerland yesterday.

Economic Difficulties

“The international sanctions mechanism is unconditional or it simply wouldn’t work,” said Brisard in e-mailed comments. “The Turkish government’s behavior is therefore a risk for the coherence of the global fight against terrorism financing.”

Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin said last month that suspension from the OECD task force would cause serious difficulties for Turkish trade and the economy.

“It could cause problems in money transfers; foreign countries may increase scrutiny for transfers from Turkey and delay the process,” Ergin said. Turkey may also face hurdles with money transfers and loans that could increase interest rates and inflation, he said, devastating the $800 billion economy.

“Turkey can not afford to ignore the recommendations, and it looks like they will pass a resolution before the deadline,” said Fadi Hakura, an analyst at the Chatham House think-tank in London on Feb. 4. “It will be enough for the time being, but I don’t think the task force will cease pressuring Turkey.”

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