Foreign minister cautiously optimistic about fate of two Czechs detained in Turkey

Lubomír Zaorálek, Mevlut Cavusoglu, photo: CTK

The fate of two Czechs detained in Turkey last month, facing potential terrorism charges, is far from certain but Czech Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek, on an official visit to Ankara has indicated there is reason for cautious optimism. Following talks with his Turkish counterpart, the minister said he saw a willingness on the part of the local authorities to accommodate the Czech Republic.

Lubomír Zaorálek,  Mevlut Cavusoglu,  photo: CTK
Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek’s trip to Turkey where he met with both his counterpart, Mevlut Cavusoglu, the Turkish prime minister, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan touched upon a number of bilateral as well as broader European and international issues: from trade to European integration to NATO partnership.

One closely-watched on the Czech domestic scene focuses on the Czech couple, Miroslav Farkas and Markéta Všelichová, arrested in Turkey last month, who were involved in Syria with the Kurdish group YPG which Turkey considers a terrorist organisation. Czech diplomats have been working on their behalf to try and secure their return home. On Tuesday, here’s what the Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek said:

“I think that I can say that I had a good impression from the talks and that I see willingness on the Turkish side to solve the issue. On the other hand, certain time is needed and this is not something which will be resolved in a single day.”

Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu was careful in his statement saying that the matter was still under investigation and that the law needed to be respected.

“We have to find out what kind of organisations the [duo] had connections. This much is clear: we have evidence and we have to proceed under Turkish law.”

The suspects Mr Farkas and Ms Všelichová spoke openly in the past about assisting the Kurdish militia in its fight against Islamic State militants. Those close to the two insisted they had not wanted anything to do with terrorism but on the contrary to help, for example, with the construction of a field hospital in Kurdish territory in Syria. By contrast, if found guilty of any connection to a terrorist organisation, they could easily face years behind bars. Mr Farkas’ father, Miroslav, spoke to public broadcaster Czech TV, saying the two had done nothing wrong.

Markéta Všelichová,  Miroslav Farkas,  photo: Sirnak Police,  Mete Sohtaoğlu
“They went there to provide humanitarian help. That is what I know, I can confirm that completely. They helped ship clothes over there. That they might be terrorists? Definitely not.”

Following Tuesday’s meeting, Turkey is making it possible for the suspects’ families to meet with them later this week.