Turkish Foreign Ministry dismisses two ambassadors, dozens of diplomats over Gülen links

Turkish Foreign Ministry dismisses two ambassadors, dozens of diplomats over Gülen links

Turkish Foreign Ministry dismisses two ambassadors, dozens of diplomats over Gülen links

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The Turkish Foreign Ministry dismissed two ambassadors and dozens of lower-level diplomats on July 26 in the aftermath of the July 15 failed coup attempt, as part of the government’s massive purge of civil servants believed to have links to the Fethullah Gülen organization.  

The purge included Gürcan Balık, who long served as the chief advisor to former Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, and former Ambassador to Canada Tuncay Babalı. Two other ambassador-level diplomats, Şentürk Uzun and Ali Fındık, were dismissed prior to the July 15 failed coup attempt. 

“Gürcan Balık and Tuncay Babalı have been dismissed. There are a few other ambassadors we are still investigating. There is another ambassador, he was on a different mission, but we will remove him as well,” Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu told reporters on July 26. The minister declined to identify the third ambassador to be dismissed.  

Balık and Babalı had not been on an active mission since early 2014, after the government began fighting against the Gülenist organization in the wake of a massive corruption and fraud operation against government members in late 2013. 

Balık was believed to have played an important role in Davutoğlu’s meeting with Gülen in mid-2013 in the United Stated in a bid to mend ties between the government and the self-exiled cleric. 

Around 300 Gülenist diplomats 

According to information gathered by Hürriyet Daily News, the Gülenist infiltration into the Foreign Ministry took place in high numbers between 2007 and 2013. Both Babalı and Fındık served at the human resources department of the ministry during this period. Babalı was the head of the department between 2010 and 2012 before being appointed to Ottawa while Fındık was sent to Costa Rica as the Turkish envoy. 
It was estimated that the number of diplomats under scrutiny was around 300 however it was unknown how many diplomats would be dismissed by the end of the process. 

Change in the examination system 

In earlier remarks, Çavuşoğlu had said that many Gülenists were able to penetrate the ministry after a change in the examination system. 

“We will clear the state of this gang because they have infiltrated the state through treacherous plans. For example, my ministry, the Foreign Ministry… for ages the selection process for the ministry was based on open-ended questions and translation from Turkish into English. But those belonging to this parallel gang changed the selection system into a multiple choice test after getting control of the personnel department,” Çavuşoğlu told reporters late July 23 in Antalya. 

“They have imposed the hardest questions ever in the history of the ministry so that only their members who have been provided with the answers beforehand can pass the exam. None of them has the foreign language capability or capacity [to be a diplomat],” he added.