Turkey expects US to extradite Fethullah Gulen

Turkey's PM Erdogan says Gulen threatened Turkey's national security, had attempted a civil coup against the Turkish gov't

Turkey's PM Erdogan says Gulen threatened Turkey's national security, had attempted a civil coup against the Turkish gov't

ANKARA – Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday that he expected the U.S., as Turkey's strategic partner, to extradite U.S.-based scholar Fethullah Gulen because Gulen threatened Turkey’s national security. 

Erdogan, speaking with PBS’s Charlie Rose, said that bureaucrats and officials linked to Gulen had tapped the phones of top officials of the government, including prime minister and government ministers, in an attempt to make a civil coup against the elected government. 

Erdogan claimed that Gulen-linked elements had seized power through Turkey’s security forces and judiciary. “We were aware of their efforts, but we were blindfolded and did not expect any bad faith,” Erdogan said.

Erdogan said that his Justice and Development (AK) Party and the Gulen movement had good relations leading up to the 2010 referendum to amend the Turkish constitution.

Erdogan added that the first step that the Gulen movement took against the government was the release of records of an Oslo meeting between agents of the Turkish National Intelligence Organization (MIT) and Kurdish separatists, working towards the resolution process.

“The Oslo talks were steps in good faith, and the intelligence agency of any country can be expected to take such steps if they lead to peace,” Erdogan said.

In response to a question about his condolences to Armenians for the events of 1915, Erdogan said that the relocation of Armenian communities by officials in the late Ottoman Empire cannot be defined as “genocide,” as there are still Armenians living in Turkey, either as Turkish citizens or refugees fleeing the Armenian state.

When asked about the normalization of Turkish-Israeli relations, Erdogan thanked U.S. President Barack Obama for arbitrating between the two states and urged Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu to apologize to Turkey for the attack by Israeli forces on the Mavi Marmara humanitarian aid ship, which killed eight Turkish citizens and a U.S. citizen of Turkish origin.

“There remain two conditions for normalization, compensations for the Mavi Marmara attack and for Israel to allow humanitarian aid to be delivered to Palestinians from Turkey or through Turkey,” Erdogan told Rose.

Erdogan added that the first step for normalization would be the appointment of ambassadors.

Responding to allegation of authoritarianism in Turkey, Erdogan asked how he could be considered a dictator given that he received 45.5 percent of the votes in the municipal elections, while opposition parties received only 27 percent or 15 percent.

Erdogan said that in a dictatorship, no-one can insult the dictator, while in Turkey opposition party leaders, journalists and social media users regularly insult the prime minister, whom they describe as a dictator.

Concerning the ban on Twitter, Erdogan said that since Twitter did not have an office in Turkey and does not pay taxes in Turkey, and hadn’t obeyed Turkish court decisions, the state had to take actions against it.

“Just as the Twitter pays taxes within the U.S. or other countries, and obey the laws of other countries, it has to obey those of Turkey as well,” said Erdogan.

Stating that the Turkish constitutional court had broken the law by choosing to lift the Twitter ban, Erdogan said that the court had ruled before the other judicial options were exhausted.

“We obeyed the decision, but we criticized as well. The decision was not in accord with the law but was political,” added Erdogan.

Referring to the speech last week by constitutional court president Hasim Kilic, criticizing the government, Erdogan said that Kilic had tried to lecture the president, prime minister, parliament speaker and other cabinet members, and was clearly out of his depth.

Asked about the 2013 Gezi Park protests, Erdogan said that protests and demonstrations are common around the world including in the U.S., England, Germany, Ukraine and Spain, but resorting to violence with the provocation of some illegal groups is problematic.

Stating that most of the people who died during the protests in Turkey were not killed by guns, Erdogan said that the government would not accept violence, vandalism and terrorism, even if they disguised themselves with the mask of peaceful demonstrations.

Stating that external forces were involved in last years’ protests in Turkey, and also in Ukraine and Egypt, Erdogan said that some elements in the U.S. may have been involved in these events, but he would never accuse the U.S. government for instigations in Turkey.

Concerning Turkey’s campaign for full membership of the EU, Erdogan said that Turkey could be a bridge between Europe and Islamic world and added that despite accepting this, the EU has not acted sincerely towards Turkey.

Stating that global developments were pushing Turkey to turn away from the EU, Erdogan said that there are other organizations in the world with which Turkey may consider membership.

Addressing the Syrian civil war and saying that Turkey has hosted more than 700 thousand refugees, Erdogan said that Turkey has spent about $3.5 billion on housing refugees.

“Around three million people are displaced and 200 thousand people have been killed, but we haven’t seen any concrete step by the UN Security Council. Geneva talks have also failed,” Erdogan complained. When asked what Erdogan sees as a solution to the crisis, he pointed to Libya and argued that Syria also needs international intervention to end the bloodshed.

Erdogan said that the world opposes the use of chemical weapons while they remain silent about the use of conventional weapons, adding, “While 2,000 people were killed by chemical weapons, 200 thousand people have been killed by conventional weapons.”

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