Ismet Erikan: “FETO is a dark and insidious organisation with political and economic ambitions”

Four years after the failed attempt to oust Erdoğan: the column of the Turkish Consul General's in Kazan

Ismet Erikan: “FETO is a dark and insidious organisation with political and economic ambitions”
Photo: Maksim Platonov

Four years ago, on the night of July 15-16, 2016, there was an attempted military coup in Turkey. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan almost immediately blamed Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen, who is living in the United States, for the incident. However, Gulen himself denied any involvement in these events, denouncing the putsch, and even expressed his readiness to return to his homeland if “at least a tenth of the accusations turn out to be true”. On the day of the fourth anniversary, the Consul General of the Republic of Turkey in Kazan, Ismet Erikan, in the column written specially for Realnoe Vremya, tells what the authorities of his country have achieved over the past time.

Four years ago…

It has been four years since the coup attempt on July 15, planned by the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETO) and committed by its supporters who infiltrated our army by violating the rules of subordination in the armed forces. As a result of the coup attempt, 251 people were killed and over 2,000 people were injured.

On July 15, the Turkish government pointed out a great threat posed to our state by the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETO, FETÖ — this is how the Turkish leadership calls the supporters of the Islamic preacher — editor's note). The greatest contribution to the elimination of this threat was made by the Turkish people, who demonstrated that they do not recognise any authority over their will and are ready to give their lives to protect their state and democratic achievements.

Over the past four years, one of the main priorities of our state has been the fight against FETO inside and outside the country. Within the country, first of all, in accordance with the rule of law, those responsible for the events of July 15 were brought to trial. Besides, FETO's organisational structure in Turkish state institutions was uncovered, administrative and judicial proceedings were initiated against its supporters, and “the parallel state structure” of the organisation was eventually destroyed. In addition, FETO's front structures outside of state organisations, ranging from education to media and banking sector, spread to all areas of the economy, were eliminated.

Despite extraordinary security challenges we faced, our struggle within the country was conducted in accordance with the principles of the rule of law and the protection of fundamental rights and freedoms.

Over the past four years, one of the main priorities of our state has been the fight against FETO inside and outside the country

On international scene

In these circumstances, FETO, as a result of the gradual weakening of its structure at home, changed its strategy again and began to focus on its activities abroad. For this reason, the fight against FETO structures outside Turkey has become more important.

Feto is a security threat to all states where it operates. It is known that the organisation is aimed at creating political and economic spheres of influence for itself, while it does not hesitate to violate laws in the countries of presence and acts as a criminal and intelligence organisation.

In order to restrict the organisation's freedom of action abroad, prevent its supporters from escaping justice, and restrict the transfer of funds, administrative measures have been taken and legal proceedings have been initiated. As part of the investigations initiated in Turkey against the leaders of FETO structures abroad, extradition requests have been sent to the host countries of these individuals.

According to the requirements for freezing the assets of individuals and organisations — members of FETO structures abroad who provided financial assistance to the organization — the work is being carried out in coordination with the relevant institutions in Turkey. Besides, our initiatives continue to close FETO-related educational institutions abroad, purge these institutions of FETO elements, and transfer them to the Maarif Foundation.

In this context, although slowly, the international community began to understand that the FETO organization, which can be described as a new generation of terrorist organisations, is not a social movement engaged in educational and charitable activities, which it wants to represent itself to be, but is a dark and insidious organisation with political and economic ambitions.

Various countries and international organizations have declared FETO a terrorist organisation. In this context, FETO was declared a terrorist organisation at the 43rd session of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Organization of Islamic cooperation (OIC) on 19 October 2016; a similar decision was made by the Asian Parliamentary Assembly on 1 December 2016; this was confirmed at the 12th session of the OIC Parliamentary Union on 27 January 2017. Besides, the TRNC (Northern Cyprus) has recognised FETO as a terrorist organisation. On 28 December 2018, the Supreme Court of Pakistan also came to the same decision.

FETO is a security threat to all states where it operates

The organisation has suffered obvious damage

As part of the fight against FETO, a group of four political parties in the Grand National Assembly of Turkey issued a joint statement on FETO on August 9, 2019. The document stated about the expectation of early extradition to Turkey of FETO supporters led by Fethullah Gulen, which strengthened our efforts in the fight against FETO.

Third countries' awareness of FETO has led to close monitoring and investigation by these countries of the activities of the relevant elements. In various countries, illegal actions initiated by structures associated with FETO were identified, along with those expelled from Turkey to third countries. More than 120 FETO supporters were expelled from more than 20 countries to Turkey.

To date, 38 countries have partially or completely discontinued FETO-related schools and language courses, and 20 of them have transferred schools to the Maarif Foundation. Besides, the Maarif Foundation opened new schools in 22 countries.

These actions of ours increased pressure on the organisation's supporters and led to serious restrictions on the actions of the organisation's structures abroad.

Given that the international FETO network has suffered obvious damage, the organisation, using media and its lobbying capabilities, tries to demonstrate the position of the victim with unsubstantiated news, tries to appear in the press, and strengthen its cooperation with circles hostile to Turkey.

We will resolutely continue our work on FETO structures abroad, which will obviously be a long one.

By Ismet Erikan. Photo: Maksim Platonov

The opinion of editorial staff may not coincide with the author's opinion