Albania resists Turkish call to hand over Gülen-linked individuals

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Albanian Foreign Minister and Chairperson of the Committee for European Integration, Ditmir Bushati is seen during joint press conference with Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkey, Mevlut Cavusoglu (not seen) after their meeting in Tirana, Albania on October 19, 2018. AFP PHOTOS

After Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu called on Albania to close down schools linked to Fethullah Gülen and “extradite the terrorists,” Albanian Foreign Minister Ditmir Bushati said Tirana had to respect its international obligations on extradition, Balkan Insight reported.

Çavuşoğlu said at a joint press conference with Bushati in Tirana on Friday that he wanted to see Albania close down a network of schools that he called “anti-Turkish institutions.”

“There is a serious [Gülen network] structure in Albania. They have penetrated very deeply into the state system,” Çavuşoğlu said.

However, Bushati replied that as a NATO member and candidate for EU membership, Tirana is bound by international agreements on extradition that cannot be overturned at press conferences.

“Albania adheres to several important international documents relating to extradition,” Bushati said. “Any such policy should follow the diplomatic route, and not press conferences,” he added.

Once a close ally of Turkish strongman Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Gülen has since morphed into his bitterest foe. Now based in the US, he has denied playing any role in a failed 2016 coup.

Despite this, Turkey has pressed its neighbors and allies in the region to close any Gülen-linked institutions and extradite their staff to Turkey.

In September seven Turkish teachers residing in Moldova were apprehended by Turkish operatives with the collaboration of the Moldovan security agency.

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