Failed coup strengthened Turkish unity: ambassador 

July 30, 2016 - 21:17

TEHRAN - Two weeks after the July 15 coup, the Tehran Times sat face-to-face with Turkish ambassador to Tehran Riza Hakan Tekin to hear his remarks about the pre- and post-coup Turkey.

Too strong to be defeated by tanks and helicopters, said the ambassador, hailing the Turkish people’s will. 

Following is the first part of the interview. 

Q: Your country has been in a complicated situation over the past two weeks, experiencing a coup and this is what we would like to start with. What happened? 

A: Right. This it is no longer a secret due to access to media outlets, not comparable with other coups in Turkey’s contemporary history from this perspective. What happened has to do with Fetullah Gülen’s terrorist group which had infiltrated into virtually all important state institutions, including the Army, security organizations, interior ministry, and judicial organizations. This had been going on, it was understood, for many years and they sought to obtain power through this very illegal and wild act particularly through their people in army.

They used tanks, helicopters and F16s and even bombed the parliament and the civilians who were resisting this coup attempt.  But, thanks to God and due to the unity of our people who entered the scene regardless of their political background, the coup failed. Even those opposing the government resisted the coup attempt. 

Also, the media played a very important role during the coup. You know, these guys tried to send their message through the public TV because they invaded the TRT headquarters (the Turkish Radio and Television Corporation) and made their statement read by one of the anchor women. But, thanks to other media, especially the private ones, our president’s message was transmitted to the Turkish people. Other Turkish officials also called on the Turkish people to resist and take to the streets to resist the coup plotters. The parliament also made an amazing performance, holding a morning meeting immediately on that night. Coupled with this, other parties, even those opposing the current government made a very strong declaration against the attempt.  Now, we are in the restoration stage. Our government, our institutions, and our official bodies are trying to clean up the state from these terrorist groups who have been infiltrating into the organizations for decades. 

We try to punish all perpetrators of this wild act who killed civilians and bombed our parliament. We all believe we emerged very strongly from this unfortunate event. I think the abortive coup has strengthened the unity of the Turkish people, which is very important. Coup plotter has never imagined this. 

Also, as Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on the eve of the coup the era of coup is over.  So, the Turkish people proved that very dramatically, scarifying themselves. Coup plotters martyred 246 people, showing to the world, to our region and to the world that even tanks and F16s are doomed to failure in the face of the will of our people. This was one of the most important lessons of what happened in Turkey at the coup night. 
Q: Your government has been elected by votes cast by the Turkish people. Don’t you think the widespread post-coup purges may question democratic principles of your country? How do you put these two together?

A: This is a very good question but these purges or all these activities to find who were behind the coup and who the elements of this terrorist group are within state-run institutions are being done to strengthen our democracy. Because they have nothing to do with democracy or human rights or the will of the people. What they were aiming all this time was a creeping infiltration into official bodies of our country and waiting for the right moment to seize power.

That is th‘Fetullah Gülen has a very divisive mindset. He, for instance, is categorically against Iran; he and his group did everything to block Turkish-Iranian relations’ e only motivation behind these all purges or detentions or firings as you would like to call it. We experienced a serious incident. I don’t know if incidences like bombing a parliament or using tanks to kill civilians who only had flags in their hands have ever happened anywhere else in the world. 

Accordingly we have to be very careful and we have to clarify that nothing has been done against other people. The sole aim of all these activities is to clean up both our state structure and other components like newspapers. 

Q: We heard that as many as 45 newspapers have been shut down. Is that right?  

A: Those newspapers have been openly supporting Fetullah Gülen for many years. This group is not a traditional group, not even a traditional terrorist organization. They have been very secretive; they have always been carrying out activities under the disguise of other things. They, for example, started with the interface dialogue. They have established many schools, high schools, and universities. You may think they are doing very good things if you don’t know what they really are doing. Or you may think they are helping the society by making investment in education or establishing some hospitals. But, all these media, educational institutions are a tool to take power. And with their media, they have been trying to disseminate propaganda but in a very smart way. 

Fetullah Gülen has a very divisive mindset. He, for instance, is categorically against Iran; he and his group did everything to block Turkish-Iranian relations. He has very offensive views towards Shias and does not accept them as Muslims. What has been going on in Turkey after the coup in terms of detention, in terms of closure of media or other media, has not been done to impose a certain view on Turkey or eliminate some opposition figures. It is to finish up this organization with all its elements. 

Q: I want to merge two of my questions. Why are you calling Gülen a terrorist and what evidence do you have to support your claim that he is behind the coup? 

A: This is still very fresh. It was July 15 and just two weeks have passed. If you don’t call them terrorists, how would you define them? They are not political actors, they are not civil activists; they are not members of religious groups. You can only call them a terrorist group because of what they are doing. They are killing civilians. They are infiltrating into state institutions with the aim of getting power through illegal means.

If they wish to have political activities like many other political groups, if they want to rule the country which is a legitimate thing, they can establish a political party, what they never did. If they don’t want to establish a political party, they can join one political party as their platform. They are doing everything secretly. They are like a terrorist sect. This is a very unique situation in terms of the history of politics or in terms of history of terrorism in the world. 

We don’t have such a group, such an example in any country. They have been very well organized not only in Turkey but also outside Turkey. For many years, they have been establishing lots of organizations, NGOs mainly, also schools. They have schools all over the world. Probably, they want to rule the world because they have established schools in Africa, in Asia, and in the U.S. I know they have schools even in the United States. They may in the long run want to have a universal empire. Who knows because this is not a healthy mind what is behind this and this is why we define them as terrorist group. There is no other definition for them.

Q: Your government is asking Americans to extradite Fetullah Gülen and Americans are asking for evidence. How far do you think you would be successful in handing over the evidence and they will return Gülen to you?

A: We are confident in terms of the evidences we will be providing to the United States’ authorities. This is not a new thing. The first time the true nature of the group was known was about two-and-a-half years ago, in December 2013 when they tried to detain high Turkish officials through their judiciary personnel within the Turkish system. Of course, we realized that these people have something else in their minds. So, Turkish authorities from then on started scrutinizing this group and their elements within state-run bodies. The decision was taken in 2014 at the National Security Council of Turkey. Last May, another decision was made at the council to take measures to stop activities of the group both within and outside Turkey. So, there has already been a process of gathering information or making some legal cases against the group. 

You know Gülen has been living in the United States since 1999, for almost 17 years. We have sent them some files. But, this is a much serious thing. What has happened in Turkey was open. I cannot talk in details about files which would be presented to the U.S. authorities. But now we have more information about that. For example, our chief of staff of armed forces who was detained by coup plotters that night and resisting the military guy who carried out the coup and, said one of the coup generals had asked him to support them and talk on phone with he wished so. This is only one telling evidence and I’m sure there are many other official documents, showing Gülen is behind the scene.