Bagis expresses sympathy with Norway, but faults its tolerance for terrorists
European Union Minister Egemen Bagis yesterday expressed Turkey's sympathy for Norway following last week's deadly terrorist attacks, yet also criticized Oslo's tolerance for terrorist groups and their supporters. "Turkey is one of the countries that can best understand the Norwegian people's agonies, as for 40 years we have suffered from PKK terrorism and have long said that terrorism can only be countered by international cooperation," Bagis, who is also Turkey's chief EU negotiator, told reporters after paying a visit to the Norwegian Embassy in Ankara to offer his condolences. Bagis also complained of how in 2005 Norway allowed PKK supporters to protest close enough to visiting Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to throw eggs at him. Members of Erdogan's entourage shielded him with their coats, as the Norwegians had failed to take sufficient security measures, he said. "We criticized those who allowed the PKK ... to stage a demonstration so close to the prime minister of Turkey that they could throw eggs on him," Bagis said. "[But] the Norwegian authorities told us ... they tolerated such things as they wanted such demonstrations to be out in the open, not underground." He added, "Today we have seen what this tolerance has come to."