Despite opposing account, Turkish PM insists on his version of Gülen visit

Despite opposing account, Turkish PM insists on his version of Gülen visit

Despite opposing account, Turkish PM insists on his version of Gülen visit

AA Photo

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has asserted his version of a visit to U.S.-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gülen in 2013, indirectly contesting former President Abdullah Gül’s version of the story.

Daily Milliyet on April 30 reported the prime minister as saying he had visited Gülen in October 2013 “with the knowledge of” then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and ex-President Gül.

“In a place where the president is present and as the foreign minister, I would not go anywhere … without getting permission from him or without informing him. This is a principle that I have embraced as part of state morality,” Davutoğlu was quoted as saying on May 3 during a visit to Germany. 

His remarks came as he was elaborating on his 2013 visit when he travelled from New York where he had attended a U.N. General Assembly meeting accompanying then-President Gül to Pennsylvania, where Gülen has lived in self-imposed exile since 1999. 

Davutoğlu reiterated that he had told Gül beforehand that he would visit Gülen.

As Turkey’s foreign minister at the time, Davutoğlu had reportedly asked Gülen to return to Turkey. Gülen, according to Davutoğlu, refused the offer, stressing that it was “not the right time.”

Yet, in a swift correction, Gül contradicted Davutoğlu, saying he was not informed before Davutoğlu’s visit to Gülen in 2013.

“There is an error in the part about me [in Davutoğlu’s statement]. I heard about [the visit] afterwards,” Gül said late May 1, referring to Davutoğlu’s visit to the government’s ally-turned-nemesis.

Taking pains to express his respect for Gül, Davutoğlu nevertheless said he informed the then-president about his visit both before and after the visit.

“I have endless respect for Mr. Gül but my mind is very clear. I haven’t held any meeting out of state records,” Davutoğlu said. 

“If they wish, let the ‘parallel structure’ broadcast all recordings of the meeting. This was not a courtesy meeting. Let them show them if they have recordings,” he added, referring to the Gülen movement as “the parallel structure,” which his government and President Erdoğan say have formed “a parallel state within the state in order to topple the government.