Turkey’s head of intelligence to visit Germany: Report

Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT) head, Hakan Fidan, will visit Berlin in the near future as an invitee of the head of Germany’s Federal Intelligence Service (BND), Bruno Kahl, Deutsche Welle Türkçe reported on its website Feb. 13.

Citing diplomatic sources, the report said Fidan was also expected to meet with Hans-Georg Maassen, the head of Germany’s domestic intelligence organization, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), during this visit.

The sources said the contact between the two countries’ intelligence services had increased lately due to security problems and threats that concern both Turkey and Germany.

These include threats originating from Syria, foreign fighters and the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

Fidan’s visit will come a few weeks after German Chancellor Angela Merkel paid a visit to Turkey, during which she met Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım, along with MPs from the opposition.

During the visit, Merkel and Erdoğan pledged further cooperation in the fight against terrorism.

Fighters who have gone to Syria from Germany before returning, mostly via Turkey, pose a threat to Germany’s security, meaning cooperation between the two countries’ intelligence agencies has become more vital for Berlin.

Relations between the two countries entered a strained period after the German Bundestag described mass the killings of Ottoman Armenians during World War I as “genocide.”

Turkey accused Germany for not doing enough after the July 15, 2016, coup attempt in Turkey, which the Turkish government accuses U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen and its followers of orchestrating.

Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) announced on Feb. 10 the recall and discharge of Turkish imams as part of the Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (DİTİB), which Germany accused of spying.

DİTİB said in a statement that they did not accept the accusations of spying but that they decided to take some measures to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future.