Turkish PM slams European countries, praises Spain over stance on followers of Gülen movement

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım on Wednesday slammed European countries with the exception of Spain on their stance vis-à-vis alleged members of the Gülen movement.

Criticising European countries apart from Spain for backing alleged members of the Gülen movement, Prime Minister Yıldırım claimed in a speech at the Nueva Economic Forum in Madrid that “unfortunately they are providing unbelievable space for the separatist terror organization FETÖ, and this saddens Turkey.”

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

“Spain is the best country in the EU for understanding Turkey. Turkey also understands Spain. Why? Because both Turkey and Spain have suffered a lot from terrorism over the years. We know what terrorism means for a country. Separatist terrorist organizations are like microbes that constantly consume the energy of a country,” he added.

Yıldırım said Ankara was still committed to the goal of becoming a member of the EU and that good relations with Russia are “not an alternative to Europe.”

“We are NATO members. We are from a country that has been waiting for EU membership for more than 60 years. Everyone who applied after us has already been granted membership. There is an ideological approach toward Turkey,” he claimed.

Describing Turkey-Russia relations as “essential for the security of Europe,” Yıldırım said the EU “cannot exclude Russia.”

He also said Brussels “has not keep its promises” given to Turkey over the refugee crisis. “We made an agreement with the EU to prevent the passage of refugees. There are 3,5 million refugees in our country. We provide shelter for them, vaccinations, healthcare, so we requested a little contribution from the EU as well as new steps in accession negotiations with Turkey. We demanded visa exemptions and an update of the Customs Union and shook hands on this. The daily migrant total has fallen below 50 but we have not received the answer we expected. Unfortunately, we are still disappointed,” Yıldırım said.

Meanwhile, speaking to the United Nations General Assembly, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu also slammed countries that draw distinctions between various alleged “terror groups.”

“When ISIL kills innocent civilians, we all react, and this is the right thing to do,” Çavuşoğlu said during a meeting on “Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace.”

“When FETÖ or the PKK/PYD/YPG (Kurdistan Workers’ Party/Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party/People’s Protection Units) kill innocent civilians, some countries choose to ignore it because these terrorist groups might be useful for them somewhere else,” he said.

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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