Obama advises Erdoğan to stick to democratic values in coup attempt investigations

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US President Obama spoke with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan by phone on Tuesday and stated that US expects that any inquiry into the alleged plotters of the Friday’s coup attempt should be conducted consistent with the democratic values of the Turkish Constitution.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters in Washington that Obama also pledged any needed assistance to the Turkish government over the failed military coup attempt that killed more than 200 people and injured nearly 1,600.

Earnest said that the democratic values Obama talked about  were the same with those the Turkish people were defending in repelling the coup. Earnest added that one good piece of evidence of that is all parties’ of the Turkish parliament condemnation of the attempted coup — even parties “who have vigorous political disagreements” with the Turkish government.

The spokesman informed that Obama and Erdoğan also discussed Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen’s status. He said that the Turkish government on Tuesday submitted information related to Gülen that the US government is reviewing. He reportedly said it was too early to say whether the documents submitted by Turkey represent a formal extradition request.

Earnest emphasized that any decision on Gülen would be made according to steps established by US law and not by Obama. If a formal request is received, the US would consider it and decide based on whether it thinks it relates to crimes covered by the extradition treaty between the US and Turkey and on whether there is evidence that crimes were committed.

Erdoğan and Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım have accused the Gülen movement of being behind the military coup, although reports say that the Gülen movement does not seem to have such a massive influence over the Turkish military, which is known for its Kemalist roots that is against the Gülen movement. The rebel soldiers who attempted to stage a coup named themselves as “Council of Peace At Home,” in a declaration they forcibly had delivered by the state-run broadcaster TRT on Friday night. “Peace at home, peace in the world” is a famous saying by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the Republic of Turkey.

The Gülen movement is a grassroots social initiative inspired by Scholar Fethullah Gülen and carries out charitable activities all around the world, including education, distributing humanitarian aid and providing drinking water especially in African countries.

Since a massive corruption scandal that implicated then-ministers of the Cabinet erupted on Dec. 17, 2013, Erdoğan and the AK Party government claimed that the graft investigation was a “coup attempt” against his government and accused the Gülen movement of being behind it. The sons of ministers, well-known business people, a district mayor, a director of a state-owned bank, and many high-profile figures, who were arrested as part of the investigation, were released and the prosecutors who initiated the case were later imprisoned as a result of political interference. However, four Cabinet ministers were forced to resign.

The major graft case was closed by other prosecutors who replaced them, with all the charges against politicians and business people being dropped. A parliamentary investigation against the four ministers was also dropped with AK Party votes. The graft probe had implicated then-Prime Minister Erdoğan, members of his family and senior Justice and Development Party (AK Party) figures.

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