Deputy PM says axis debates over Turkey is ‘groundless’

Deputy PM says axis debates over Turkey is ‘groundless’

Deputy PM says axis debates over Turkey is ‘groundless’

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Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş said Aug. 17 that debates on possible shifts to Turkey’s axis were groundless, adding that Turkey had its own axis.

“Longstanding debates such as ‘Is Turkey’s axis shifting?’ and ‘Is Turkey shifting away from the West?’ were put on the agenda [after the July 15 failed coup attempt]. Any debate on Turkey’s axis – just like yesterday but also today and tomorrow – is wrong and in vain,” state-run Anadolu Agency quoted Kurtulmuş as telling a group of diplomacy journalists in Ankara on Aug. 17. 

“If an axis absolutely needs to be mentioned, then we can talk about Turkey’s own axis,” he added. “Turkey fortifies itself on its own axis.”

Kurtulmuş said the debate on whether or not Turkey’s axis was shifting was brought about by followers of U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen, whom the Turkish government accuses of orchestrating the July 15 failed coup attempt. 

More than 250 people died on July 15 after a group inside the army, who are alleged to be Gülenists, attempted to stage a coup to topple the government and take Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan hostage. The attempt was overthrown after Erdoğan called on the people to take to the streets, who not only made the security forces job easier but they themselves also tried to prevent coup plotters from gaining success. 

Turkey has accused the West, namely the U.S. and European Union countries, of not standing together with Turkey after the coup attempt and rather being more interested in the crackdown the government launched to eliminate Gülenists from state and private institutions. 

Adding to the deterioration of relations with the West, Turkey has started to build better relations with Russia after a breakdown in their ties after Ankara downed a Russian jet along the Syria-Turkey border on Nov. 24, 2015. Turkey initiated a rapprochement with Russia in late June – at least two weeks before the failed coup attempt – with Erdoğan penning a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin expressing his regret over the incident. 

On Aug. 9, Erdoğan paid a visit to Putin in St. Petersburg, marking the first face-to-face leaders’ meeting after the jet crisis and Erdoğan’s first trip abroad after the failed coup.