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EU denies claims of designating Gülen movement as ‘terrorist organization’ in report

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The European Union has denied claims made 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 released on Tuesday, according to the Ahval news website.

A source who spoke to Ahval on condition of anonymity categorically denied claims made by Turkish media outlets such as NTV and the left-wing Birgün daily, stressing that the draft report is identical to last year’s on the Gülen movement and that ”FETÖ” is referred to as government lexicon for the movement.

In the EU’s last progress report on Turkey, published in November  2016, there were 28 references 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 terrorist organizations is created by the interior ministries of the EU member states; designating an organization as a terrorist structure does not fall under the purview of the EU Commission.

The EU’s terror list was established following the 9/11 attacks on the US. At the time, Turkish Minister of Justice Hikmet Sami Turk lobbied Brussels to include the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C) on the list. These organizations were later included.

The current EU list makes no mention of ”FETÖ” but contains several organizations with which Turkish authorities have contact.

The pro-government NTV news website and other media outlets such as the Birgün daily today claimed that the EU’s latest progress report would describe as a terrorist group what the Turkish government has labeled the Fethullahist Terror Organization (FETÖ), which it accuses of masterminding a July 2016 coup.

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

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan continues to criticize the West for its failure to recognize the group as a terrorist organization.

Comprising followers of Turkish Islamic cleric Fethullah Gülen, the Gülen movement, or ‘’FETÖ’’ as described by the government, was allied with Turkey’s governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) until a power struggle divided the groups in 2013.

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