President Erdoğan: Threat against Turkey comes from United States, allies

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Saturday complained that the US and its allies are “supplying weapons to militants for free” while refusing to sell them to Turkey. “So where does the threat come from? It comes primarily from strategic partners,” Erdoğan said in an interview with pro-government private broadcaster NTV.

According to a report by Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency, Erdoğan said: “We cannot buy weapons from the US with our money. And unfortunately the US and coalition forces give these weapons, this ammunition, to terrorist organizations for free.”

The US has supported the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in recent years in the campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). The support has vexed Ankara, which views the YPG as linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has waged a decades-long insurgency against the central Turkish government.

Erdoğan also said the US should look at its own actions if it wants the return of an American pastor Andrew Brunson, who has been jailed in Turkey for suspected links to a 2016 coup bid.

Brunson, who has lived in Turkey for more than two decades, was indicted on charges of helping the Gülen movement. He faces up to 35 years in prison. Brunson denies the charges.

Erdoğan has previously linked Brunson’s fate to that of the US-based Turkish Muslim scholar Fethullah Gülen, who has lived in the US since 1999. Turkey is seeking his extradition from the US. President Donald Trump and dozens of US senators have urged Erdoğan to release Brunson.

Meanwhile, the Turkish Foreign Ministry on Thursday also rejected as “unacceptable” the statement of the US Department of State’s spokeswoman over early polls in Turkey. In a statement, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said: “[…] remarks on elections that have yet to take place mean interference in the will of the nation and cannot be accepted.”

Aksoy’s remarks came after the US State Department’s spokesperson Heather Nauert expressed “concerns” on early elections during state of emergency in the country.

“During a state of emergency, it would be difficult to hold a completely free, fair and transparent election in a manner that’s consistent with … Turkish law and also Turkey’s international obligations. So we are aware of that,” Nauert had told a briefing on April 19, noting Turkey has been under a state of emergency for nearly two years following a July 2016 coup bid.

In response, Aksoy claimed that “all elections held in Turkey are confirmed to be democratic, free, fair and transparent by international observers’ reports. The constitutional referendum held in 2017 under the state of emergency is the latest demonstration of that. By ignoring this fact, it is a malicious approach to claim that the implementation of the state of emergency would cause elections to fall behind democratic standards.”

Aksoy also claimed that elections were held in many other countries during states of emergency. “One of the latest examples is the 2017 election in France. Some states that claim they embrace democracy and the rule of law display double standards towards Turkey through such biased remarks towards our country,” he asserted.

Turkey declared a state of emergency on July 20, 2016 following a controversial coup attempt. On April 18, the Turkish Parliament for the seventh time extended the ongoing state of emergency for another three months.

TURKISH GOVERNMENT SLAMS US REPORT ON HUMAN RIGHTS REPORT

The Turkish government on Sunday criticized the recent Turkey 2017 Human Rights Report released by the US State Department, claiming that it “privileged the views of terrorist-linked sources” and “ignored the facts.”

Turkey is “deeply disappointed” by the report, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement on the annual report, released on Friday. “The report is based on a distant understanding of responsibility, presenting the allegations and accusations of terrorist-related circles as real,” it alleged.

The report “is filled with allegations and claims in the section relevant to our country that cannot be accepted,” stated the ministry. It asserted that “despite its intense fight against serious, multifaceted terror threats, Turkey continues its commitment to the principles of democracy, human rights and the rule of law.”

The statement said the report ignores Turkey’s fight against the Gülen movement. “It is not a coincidence that such a report, which repeats the sayings of terror-linked groups and describes the fight against terrorism as an ‘internal conflict,’ is written in a country where FETÖ’s ringleader lives,” said the statement.

“FETÖ” is a derogatory term coined by ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and President Erdoğan to refer to the Gülen movement.

“In addition, we advise countries that accuse our country of unfair claims to first stop systematic human rights violations against their own citizens,” urged the ministry statement. It vowed that Turkey’s fight against terrorism would “go on resolutely,” along with “efforts to strengthen basic rights and freedom.”

Turkey survived a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.

Turkey has suspended or dismissed more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15. On December 13, 2017 the Justice Ministry announced that 169,013 people have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.

Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu announced on April 18, 2018 that the Turkish government had jailed 77,081 people between July 15, 2016 and April 11, 2018 over alleged links to the Gülen movement.

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