Report: EU denies claims of designating Gülen movement as ‘terror organisation’

The European Union has denied claims by the Turkish press that it has, for the first time, called the Gülen movement a ‘terrorist’ organization in its upcoming progress report slated to be published on Tuesday, according to a report by online news outlet Ahval on Sunday.

A source who spoke to Ahval on the condition of anonymity categorically denied claims made by Turkish media sources such as NTV and left-wing Birgün daily, stressing that the draft report is identical to last year’s on the Gülen movement and ”FETÖ” is referred to as government lexicon on the movement. “FETÖ” is a derogatory term coined by ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) to refer to the Gülen movement.

In the EU’s last progress report on Turkey, published in Nov. 2016, there were 28 references made to the Gülen movement, none of them referring to the group as ‘terrorist.’

The 2016 report said,”The government attributed the organisation of the coup attempt to the Gülen movement.” In another reference, the report said, ”In May, the President and the government announced that the Gülen movement was formally included in the list of terrorist organisations kept but not disclosed by the National Security Council.”

The list of terror organizations is created by the Interior Ministries of the EU member states; designating an organization as a terrorist structure does not fall under the tasks of the EU Commission.

The EU’s terror list was established following the 9/11 attacks. At the time, the Turkish Minister of Justice Hikmet Sami Türk lobbied in Brussels to include the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) and the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front (DHKP-C) on the list. These organizations were later included in the list. The current EU list makes no mention of ”FETÖ,” but contains several organizations with which Turkish authorities have contacts.

Pro-government NTV news website and other media sources such as leftist Birgün daily published claims on Sunday that the EU’s latest progress report will describe what the Turkish government has labelled the Fethullahist Terror Organization (FETÖ) and accuses of masterminding the July 2016 coup, as a terror group.

In the upcoming report, which has been described as German broadcaster Deutsche Welle as Turkey’s ‘’most damning evaluation yet,’’ precautions taken by Ankara in order to protect its democratic institutions will be described as ‘’legitimate.”

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 autocratic 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 other civil servants since July 2016. Turkey’s interior minister announced on December 12, 2017 that 55,665 people have been arrested. On December 13, the Justice Ministry announced that 169,013 people have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.

A total of 48,305 people were arrested by courts across Turkey in 2017 over their alleged links to the Gülen movement, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said on Dec. 2, 2017. “The number of detentions is nearly three times higher,” Soylu told a security meeting in İstanbul and claimed that “even these figures are not enough to reveal the severity of the issue.”

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