In an effort to curb financial support of the outlawed Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK), which is listed as terrorist organization by Turkey, the Turkish government has intensified its lobbying efforts to convince European countries to crack down on the fund-raising activities of the militant group.
The PKK took up arms in 1984 in an attempt to create an ethnic homeland in southeastern Turkey and it kept launching attacks against military and civilian targets in Turkey recently, leaving many people killed or injured.
"There should not be a terrorist organization backed by the West," Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said at a joint news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin during a visit on Wednesday. In response, Merkel reiterated her government's support in Turkey's fight with the terrorism.
Turkish analysts view the government's effort in cut the funding sources for the PKK as part of the strategy to limit the capacity of the group in launching attacks on Turkish interests.
"The PKK will find it difficult to mount offensive attacks if it finds itself in financial jam," Idris Gursoy, a political analyst in Ankara told Xinhua over the phone.
"The Turkish government is going after European operations of the PKK and putting pressure on European governments to curtail fund-raising drives conducted by the organization," he added.
It is estimated that the PKK is raising between 150 million to 200 million euros every year through Kurds living in Europe. In many cases, businesses run by Kurds were coerced to contribute financially in return for the PKK's patronage and protection.
Turkey complains that some European countries are "tolerating these activities of the PKK," especially in Germany, where PKK's fund-raising activities are most intense due to the presence of some 3 million Turks.
Suleyman Ozeren, a security expert at the Turkish National Police Academy, stated that Germany stands out among other European countries as the "most reluctant" partner in combating the PKK. "Germany has become the most important country for the PKK, not only in raising hundreds of millions of euros but also in recruiting young militants," he contended.
Meanwhile, extradition of suspected PKK members wanted by Ankara is another problem between Turkey and the EU. According to Turkish Justice Ministry statistics, European countries have extradited less than 10 percent of the terror suspects Turkey has requested from them in the past decade.
On Wednesday in Berlin, the Turkish prime minister also expressed his frustration that many Western countries do not extradite people wanted in Turkey on terrorism charges despite extradition agreements they have with Turkey.
"We expect the extradition of such criminals," Erdogan said.
In addition to fund-raising activities by front organizations, the PKK also earns money from drug trafficking, illegal human trafficking and money laundering, according to local experts.
"The drug money is an important source of the PKK," said Ihsan Bal, who heads Terrorism and Security Studies at the Ankara-based International Strategic Research Organization. He claimed that the PKK has now transformed itself into a "narco-terror organization" and it receives billions of dollars from the drug trade.
According to largely-circulated newspaper Zaman in Turkey, there are some 80 villages in the southeastern part of Turkey currently growing marijuana under control of the PKK. It is estimated that the yield from the fields for 2012 will be 500 tons.
Turkey's Parliament Speaker Cemil Cicek warned that the PKK is killing Turkish citizens with guns and European citizens with drugs.
"Today, the PKK is the mafia boss for drug trade. If these organizations continue to receive support in Europe, your kids will keep dying on illicit drugs," he said during a meeting with visiting German justice minister on Wednesday.
Having lost hundreds of its militants in the face of the Turkish military's crackdown in recent months, the PKK has changed its tactics. Instead of picking up on military targets, the organization has started attacking schools in mostly Kurdish- populated regions, setting them ablaze and damaging state properties.
The number of schools targeted by the PKK in the eastern and southeastern provinces has increased dramatically in the last two months. Over the past two weeks, PKK militants have set more than 20 schools on fire in the southeastern provinces.
"The PKK is trying to prove that it can survive Turkish military onslaught while scaring Kurds by threatening their kids at schools," Mehmet Seyfettin Erol, a political expert, told Xinhua.