Turkey is seeking to improve its relations with Rwanda in the fields of security and law enforcement. Reciprocal visits from relevant authorities of both sides in the past year have revealed that the existing Turkish-Rwandan security cooperation has been strengthened.
In that regard, the approval process for a Turkey-Rwanda security cooperation deal that was signed in August 2015 has been accelerated by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and was approved by the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Turkish parliament during a meeting on February 19, 2020. An exchange of visits over the past year is evidence that the Turkey-Rwanda security agreement will be expanded in the coming period.
Last month, a delegation from the Turkish General Staff paid a visit to Rwanda to enhance military cooperation and met with Defense Minister Maj. Gen. Albert Murasiraand, on February 5, 2020. Two weeks later, Inspector General of the Rwandan Police Dan Munyuza visited Turkey to strengthen ties between law enforcement agencies.
In June 2019 the chief of the Rwandan Defense Staff, Gen. Patrick Nyamvumba, was hosted by Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar in Ankara, while Foreign Minister Richard Sezibera met with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu.
According to the text of the agreement, obtained by Nordic Monitor, Turkey and Rwanda will focus on fighting transboundary crime, in particular crimes related to terrorism, organized crime, smuggling of migrants and the trafficking of human beings, narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances and their precursors.
In Article 3 (b) of the agreement, Turkey and Rwanda pledge to cooperate in carrying out joint police operations in accordance with the operational procedures mentioned in Article 7, which puts forward that the terms of the agreement will be executed by the Ministry of Interior on the Turkish side and the Internal Security Ministry in Rwanda.
Turkish Ambassador to Rwanda Burcu Cevik recently told the state-run Anadolu news agency in an interview that her government is offering capacity-building training programs to the Rwandan police and that bilateral relations are at their best. “For the past three years we have offered training to 250 police officers. Training is done both here in Rwanda and in Turkey,’’ Cevik stated.
The security cooperation accord was signed on August 8, 2015 by then-Turkish Interior Minister Sebahattin Öztürk and Rwandan Internal Security Minister Sheikh Musa Fazil Harerimana. On the same day Turkish-Rwandan police authorities also agreed on a memorandum of understanding focusing on training projects for Rwandan police personnel.
In addition to training activities, Article 3 of the agreement could become a convenient tool to facilitate the extradition of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s critics living in the country. Since a coup attempt on July 15, 2016, Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MIT) has conducted operations on foreign soil targeting Erdoğan critics. Over 100 alleged members of the Gülen movement have been abducted abroad by Turkish intelligence and brought back to Turkey as part of the Turkish government’s global manhunt, according to a statement made by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu.
President Erdoğan turned against the Gülen movement after major corruption investigations in December 2013 that incriminated Erdoğan, his family members and his business and political associates. In May 2016 Turkey designated the group as a terrorist entity without any evidence that Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, or people affiliated with the movement had committed any terrorist acts. Then, a coup attempt in July 2016 was carried out at Erdoğan’s direction as a pretext for an ensuing crackdown. Following the failed coup, which was called “a gift from God” by Erdoğan, thousands of Turkish citizens were forced to flee their homes due to his anti-democratic rule and a still-ongoing purge of government critics.
The 13-article agreement was submitted to parliament for approval on May 9, 2019 by President Erdoğan:
In parallel to previous security accords, the Turkey-Rwanda security cooperation deal also contains some ambiguous phrases that give rise to serious concerns of possible prosecutions of critics who visit the African country. Speaking at the Turkish parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee last month, Deputy Director General of Turkish National Police Erhan Gülveren, an important ultranationalist figure in Turkish law enforcement, underlined the fact that such agreements will contribute to the Turkish government’s efforts to suppress people affiliated with the faith-based Gülen movement.
“In combatting terrorism, the Parties shall prevent the activities of the visual and written media organs of terrorist organizations and their front institutions operating in their territories against the other Party,” Article 2 (1.3.a) states, adding that “the Parties consider them as illegal organizations and take appropriate measures in this regard according to their national legislations.”
According to Article 2 (1.3.b), the parties will develop and implement efficient combating measures regarding persons and institutions providing financial or other support including sheltering, accommodation, training and treatment and logistic support to terrorist organizations in their territories.
Furthermore, the same article connects the activities of legal organizations to terrorism. Such uncertainties in diplomatic documents have paved the way for President Erdoğan to pressure foreign governments to hand over schools and other institutions affiliated with Erdoğan’s arch-foe, Fethullah Gülen, to the Maarif Foundation. In accordance with the deal, Rwanda was one of the first countries to shut down those schools.
The text of the security agreement is posted below:
The two countries have committed themselves to exchanging information and experience on weapons, equipment and technical installation, and monitoring the movement of the equipment, weapons and ammunition that are used in the preparation and perpetration of terrorist acts.
The agreement allows both sides to appoint liaison officers to increase the efficiency of interaction and coordination of joint actions. According to the text, the party states will carry out training certificate courses and postgraduate and doctoral programs and conduct projects for providing support in areas such as trainings, technical support, material donation and consultancy with the aim of increasing the administrative and institutional capacities of law enforcement institutions.
The deal is valid for five years and will be automatically extended for successive periods of one year. According to the text, either party may notify the other of the intent to terminate at least six months in advance.