Erdoğan calls on Obama to deport Gülen from US
Akif Beki ABOARD TR-TURTurkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has signalled that he is set to ask U.S. President Barack Obama for the “deportation” of Pennsylvania-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gülen, referring to coup and spying allegations against the Gülen movement.
“Pennsylvania is the focal point of these affairs,” he told a group of journalists on board the new presidential plane, registered as TR-TUR, during his official trip from Azerbaijan to Wales for the NATO Summit on Sept. 4.
“Of course, with America, we are strategic partners, we have a model partnership and we’re handing over the terrorists that they want us to hand over, so now we’re telling them the situation: Either deport him [Gülen] or hand him over to us,” added Erdoğan, who is scheduled to meet Obama in Wales on Sept. 5.
Here are Erdoğan’s answers to the questions posed on board:
You have announced that you will leave the presidential mansion in Çankaya to the prime minister. Why? Is it because you want a strong prime minister?
I believe that my friend Mr. Davutoğlu, who has become prime minister, will do the job strongly and successfully. We can permit the Prime Ministry to use Çankaya for certain ceremonies and receptions, after we’re moved to the new Presidential Palace in Söğütözü [an Ankara neighborhood where a new complex has been built]. This is because the Prime Ministry does not have enough space to organize receptions at its current location. Is the prime minister supposed to go to a hotel to organize a reception?
The room where we host guests at the official residence is also not enough. It’s narrow and it’s not elegant. Turkey is not the old Turkey any more. The New Turkey should show itself in certain ways. The presidential office has been arranged in the new building in a very distinct way. We were very careful and I contributed a lot to the project. We need to give the message that Ankara was a Seljuk capital, and we were also careful about the Ottoman motifs in the interior space. Meanwhile, we reflected impressions from the modern world; we built it as a smart building. Now we have a venue that can host 2,000-3,000 people in receptions. If the weather is good, it can go up to 5,000 guests. These are the conditions to be a great state.
Will you raise the issue of the “parallel structure” [Gülenists within the state] during your meeting with President Obama on Friday?
Some people in Turkey ask what we can do [against the Gülenists] without having documents [proving their guilt]. In fact, everything is there; all the wiretappings, their transcriptions. A country’s prime minister and its ministers have been wiretapped, can there be any document bigger than that? These have been uncovered and published. Now these men have come to the point where they smuggle out the electronic devices to destroy the evidence. They had almost formed a spying network, and Pennsylvania [Gülen] is the focal point of these affairs.
Pennsylvania is in America. Of course, we are strategic partners with America, we have a model partnership and we’re handing over the terrorists that they want us to hand over, so now we’re telling them the situation: Either deport him [Gülen] or hand him over to us. These are crystal-clear facts.
Gülen should come and live in his home country. If he says he is not guilty, he should come and live here. If he will manage [the Gülenists], he should do it from here. If he will become a politician, he should do so here.
You raised this issue with Obama on phone in the past...
All of their connections are being uncovered gradually. Now the things are moving towards a certain phase; some steps have been taken and these steps can be included.
For instance, some people are wanted by Interpol with red notices. Will other countries hand them over Turkey? Members of the separatist organization [PKK], [businessman] Cem Uzan and his brother, Fehriye Erdal [a convicted far-leftist militant] are all being wanted by Interpol. The related countries have been informed of their locations, but none of them has returned. These are all known issues.
Unfortunately, some of them are being protected in these countries for different reasons.
Do you have a comment on the upcoming elections in the Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK)? Is the judiciary conducting an “internal cleansing of the parallel structure”?
Such an internal matter about the judiciary is first of all related to the HSYK. With its current structure, the HSYK has only been able to make some regulations about appointments. Now, I believe that the realization of a genuinely independent, unbiased HSYK that cannot be controlled by anyone, through elections, will carry the primary courts to a different [better] position.
Some European countries are accusing Ankara because of Europeans heading into Syria for jihad via Turkey. Will you talk about this issue during the NATO meetings?
Most probably they will raise the issue. We have no tolerance regarding the crossings into Syria. We immediately deport if we catch someone with a link to terrorism. However, European countries sometimes don’t know if someone who has come to Turkey is a terrorist. They may think that these people are coming here as tourists. This is how these people cross from Turkey. If [European countries] notify us about their names, we can immediately detain them. This is how Turkey has banned over 4,000 people so far.
What is the latest situation with the peace process to solve the Kurdish problem? Do you hope that 2015 will be the year of a farewell to arms?
As far as I know, Bülent [Deputy Prime Minister Arınç] is in charge of the solution process ... God willing. We have taken and are taking all precautions [for the Kurdish problem to be solved]. Both the government and the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) are working resolutely to achieve it.
Will you raise the issue of the wiretapping [of Turkish officials by the U.S., U.K. and Germany] during the NATO Summit?
Yes, we will raise this issue during our bilateral meetings.