SPEECH BY H.E. EGEMEN BAGIS,
TURKISH AMBASSADOR IN PRAGUE ON JULY 15, 2021
Thank you for joining us today. July 15 has become a very important date in the modern history of our country Turkey. Exactly 5 years ago today, millions of unarmed civilian Turks from all different walks of life poured into the streets and squares of our country to resist a coup attempt and achieved the impossible. They protected our democracy and stability by stopping military tanks and weapons with their bare hands, bodies and most importantly by their resolute determination.
That is why I cannot help but smile when I read articles, statements and even reports criticizing Turkey’s democracy and human rights around the world and I wonder if there had ben a similar attempt in those countries where we are insulted, would millions of people risk their lives to defend their democracies ?
I would first like to present a short 4 minutes long video to start our program.
I would now like to invite you all for a minute of standing silence while we pay tribute to the 251 heroes who sacrificed their lives for democracy.
(MOMENT OF SILENCE)
Let me shortly explain Fetullah Gülen who now lives in the state of Pennsylvania in the United States is the ringleader of a clandestine, criminal and terrorist organization called FETO that is unprecedented in terms of its global reach, ambitions and methods. He is the mastermind behind what happened in Turkey on July 15th, 2016. Gülen and his followers planned and tried to capture the Turkish Republic on that most important night of our democratic history.
Gülen is a serious threat to Turkey and to the international community. To understand the security threat posed by his crime network, one needs to look into the enormity of his actions, primarily the July 15th coup attempt, and the resulting trauma that the Turkish nation has experienced.
His followers within the armed forces did not shy away from using lethal military force against innocent civilians, killing 251 and wounding thousands. They tried to assassinate the President of the Republic of Turkey. They attacked the Prime Minister’s vehicle and air-bombed our parliament with our own fighter jets. The Presidential Complex, the buildings of the National Intelligence Organization and Turkish National Police departments were attacked. The Police Special Operations Center, the crucial counter-terrorism operational body of Turkey in Ankara, was bombed by fighter jets, killing 55 police officers and injuring hundreds on the spot.
Hundreds of civilians protesting the coup attempt in Ankara and Istanbul were shot to death. The FETO coup plotters targeted public and private communication outlets, including TRT and CNN Turk.
To judge the deeds of Fetullah Gülen and FETO only with what transpired on July 15th would be a mistake. The crimes committed on the night of July 15th were just the tip of an iceberg.
It all started under the guise of a charitable education effort back in the 1970s. Fetullah Gülen and his followers disguised themselves as a benign education movement, when they started the campaign of establishing schools in Turkey and later around the world. At the peak of their power, they controlled thousands of schools in Turkey and more than eight hundred educational institutes worldwide.
We now understand that this was the first step of an infiltration campaign where kids and their parents were recruited with the seemingly innocent promise of a better education and a good job. These kids were put through school with academic and financial help and mainly a heavy hand in indoctrination. They turned into unquestioning foot soldiers of Fetullah Gülen who claims to be the “Chosen One”. The goal was to subvert the democratic foundations of the Turkish state and establish a new anti-democratic one under the absolute rule of Gülen. His students were also told that, to achieve their main goal of taking the control of the state, they should remain hidden and they could eschew all ethical, religious or personal beliefs. Attaching great importance to confidentiality in its structure, and calling the confidentiality as a "precaution", the organization gave "code" names to its members apart from their real names to ensure secrecy. In this way, this is clearly a unique and peculiar armed terrorist organization where its lower level members know each other by their code names and which has a "cell-type" structure.
There were mass-scale exam cheatings as well: In order to infiltrate the critical government posts including the military, FETO affiliated students were provided with the answers to entrance exams. There are currently many investigations into mass-scale exam cheatings in Turkey, including the Police Academy entrance tests, the Centralized Public Service Admission Tests, Military Schools and other governmental jobs.
July 15 armed coup attempt demonstrated FETO’s resolute to unwaveringly use terror, alongside other crimes, as a means to achieve its ultimate aim. With this act, FETO has clearly shown itself to the world as one of the most dangerous terrorist groups.
FETO is present in around 160 countries with thousands of schools, unfortunately one here in Prague as well in addition to businesses, NGOs and media houses. I would like to use this opportunity to warn my Czech colleagues and friends that the so called Meridien International School here in Prague is under the control of this terrorist network and should not be tolerated by a NATO ally and friend. Because their modus operandi is the same all around the world. As they aim to infiltrate and enlarge their global economic and political influence, they constitute a direct security threat for any country where they operate
FETO carries out propaganda activities against Turkey since our country remains a primary target for the terrorist organization. In this respect, groundless allegations have been put forward. FETO aims to obscure facts in order to misguide the public opinion. FETO also abuses asylum mechanisms through the applications of its members despite the fact that they are not eligible to be granted asylum. Hence, applications are based on false allegations and bring an unreasonable political, financial and social burden upon the countries.
Five important years have passed since the 15th of July coup attempt carried out by the FETO terrorist organization. As we commemorate our martyrs we also celebrate this day as a national holiday dedicated to democracy and the will of our nation.
I would like to thank you all once again for joining us and I would especially like to thank Ms. Oruc and Mr. Weigl for sharing this podium with me today. Their detailed biographies are on the program booklets distributed to you. You will all have a chance to ask questions after their presentations. Before I pass on the microphone to Ms. Sebnem Merve Oruc who came all the way from Istanbul to be with us today, I would like to share a very short video presenting what she did on that unforgettable night.
Now the floor is yours Merve.
Thank you for that very interesting presentation Merve.
I would now like to give the flor to the Executive Director of Vaclav Klaus Foundation, My dear friend Dr. Jiri Weigl.
Thank you, Jiri.
Before I open to the discussion for questions and answers: I have a surprise for my dear colleague and sister Sundus Albayraktar who served as the Iraqi Ambassador here in Prague. Sundus was also the chairperson of the OIC Prague Group which unites Ambassadors of all countries that are members of the Organization of Islamic Conference. She has asked and nominated me to carry the flag and assume the chairmanship of this group. I would like to thank her and to all of my colleagues at the OIC group who unanimously elected me to this very honourable position. I would like to present a small token of appreciation to my Sundus abla for her extra ordinary contributions to our group.
(Presentation & reading the text of the Plaque)
Questions & Answers
Invitation to the Buffet