Turkey was given a February deadline by the OECD’s Financial Action Task Force to tighten laws blocking the financing of terrorist groups or face suspension from the organization.
Turkey needs to adopt legislation “to remedy deficiencies in its terrorist financing offense” and set up “a legal framework for identifying and freezing terrorist assets,” the Task Force, sponsored by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, said on its website today at the end of a three-day meeting in Paris.
Failure to do so by Feb. 22 will result in Turkey’s suspension, it said. The Task Force said it is “deeply concerned by Turkey’s continued failure to take action.”
The group had warned in June it would “call upon its members to apply countermeasures” against Turkey if rules weren’t tightened by October. A terror financing bill drafted to address them is still held up in Turkey’s parliament. Exclusion by the Task Force could impede transactions with Western banks.
A suspension would hurt Turkey’s reputation and “alert the international financial world, possibly causing some problems in transactions,” Nihat Ali Ozcan, a terrorism analyst at the Economic Policy Research Foundation in Ankara, said by telephone today. “However, since nearly half of the Turkish economy is not registered, tightening rules might also put the government under domestic pressure from some circles, even including its grassroots supporters.”
Turkish officials say the measure has been delayed by a busy legislative schedule. Hakki Koylu, deputy chairman of parliament’s Justice Committee, said in an interview this month that Turkey is “already implementing measures against terrorist financing” and can freeze assets where needed under existing laws.
He also charged some Western countries with failing to take enough action to prevent the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, from raising funds in their countries. Turkey has been fighting the autonomy-seeking PKK, which is classified as a terrorist group by the European Union and U.S., since the 1980s.
Koylu wasn’t immediately available to comment on today’s decision.
Turkey was the only country threatened with suspension by the Task Force, which has more than 30 members, after this week’s meeting.
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