Turkish authorities have informed Sarajevo about the annulment of travel documents for a number of its citizens who currently live in Bosnia and who are suspected of collaborating with terrorist groups, Security Minister Dragan Mektic told N1 on Wednesday. He called this situation "very specific" and "unusual" adding that Bosnia will first review asylum requests of those Turkish nationals before Turkey's extradition request.
“They brought us into a very specific, unusual situation. Now, the ministry and competent agencies should launch some sort of an administrative procedure regarding that and decide on the status of those (Turkish) nationals,” said Minister Mektic.
According to him, they have applied for asylum in Bosnia.
Bosnia's investigative media outlet Zurnal.info published on Monday that the Ministry of Security received a list with names of supporters of Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish Islamic scholar, the leader of so-called Gulen movement, an international organisation presently outlawed in Turkey as an alleged terrorist group.
The Gulen movement is known as FETO and its supporters, Gulenists, are the main suspects in the 2016 Turkish coup attempt.
The same source claimed that President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, asked Bosnian authorities to extradite all Turkish citizens whom authorities in Turkey suspect of collaborating with the Gulen movement. According to Zurnal.info, Ankara delivered a list of eight Turkish citizens who now live in Bosnia and whose passports have been annulled.
The matter was also briefly discussed this week in Erdogan's meeting with Bosnia's tripartite Presidency.
Presidency Chairman Milorad Dodik told media after the meeting that Turkey does have certain demands but that this matter was not raised this time.
Commenting on the status of those citizens, Minister Mektic said Bosnian authorities will first review their asylum request. “After the decision on asylum is made, it will be followed by administrative procedure on their status. I cannot predict the outcome. We have some sort of information on the persons whose Turkish documents were annulled. Those persons contacted our institutions to see what to do next to have their status regulated. They hired a law firm here in Sarajevo to represent them,” Mektic told N1.
Turkey expects a positive response to its extradition request, according to Hasan Abdullah, political correspondent for Ankara-based TRT World.
“The general view here in Ankara is that considering the cordial relations between the two countries, a positive outcome is expected,” Abdullah told N1.
“There have been some countries, for example, where FETO was described as a terrorist organisation from the orders of the supreme judicial authorities in those countries, and action has been taken consistently across those countries,” he explained. “Then there are those countries which may be fragmented, and in some countries, for example, the central government may be willing to do something but provincial authorities are resisting. So the level of cooperation has been different. But in the case of Bosnia, the perception here is that Bosnia is one of those countries with very close ties to Turkey, and there is optimism here that those suspects would be handed over to Turkey.”
According to Abdullah, Turkey currently demands the extradition of 26 nationals in different countries. He could not comment on separate cases but said they were part of the FETO network that Turkey is going after.