TURKEY

Erdogan warns against FETO threat in Albania

ERDOGAN WARNS AGAINST FETO THREAT IN ALBANIA

Terrorist group can pose huge risk if Albanian students continue to go to FETO-linked schools, Turkish president warns

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned Albania against Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) elements in the country.

Speaking in an exclusive interview aired on Tirana-based broadcaster Top Channel late Monday, Erdogan said that Albania needed to learn lessons from the foiled coup attempt in Turkey last July, which Ankara says was masterminded by FETO.

"If this terrorist organization was able to do this [coup attempt] in Turkey, they could do the same in Albania tomorrow," he said.

"Albania is a smaller country with a fewer population. It could pose a greater threat there," he added.

In his remarks, Erdogan called on Albanians not to send their children to FETO-led schools in order to prevent this threat, and not to "ever give them the opportunity" to infiltrate government and state institutions by placing those students in public positions just like they did in Turkey.

The Turkish president said he had also made the same request to Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama and President Bujar Nishani, and warned that the FETO might otherwise become a source of threat in the country in the future, and then "it would be too late".

Erdogan suggested that the Turkish Maarif [Education] Foundation, and Albania's Education Ministry take joint action to ensure that the students currently enrolled in such schools continue their education at new schools to be established in the country.

The Maarif Foundation was established after the July 2016 coup attempt to take over the administration of overseas schools linked to FETO. It also establishes schools and education centers abroad.

According to Turkey's Ambassador to Tirana, Hidayet Bayraktar, FETO operates 12 schools in Albania.

- 'Albanian elections to mark new era'

Turning to the upcoming parliamentary polls in Albania, Erdogan said the June 25 elections would mark the beginning of a new era in the country.

"I believe that the Albanians will further empower their future in this process," he said.

The president said Turkey considers Albania a significant element of solidarity and stability in the Balkans.

"We would be very sad if a country which is so important for the stability of the Balkans becomes weak," said Erdogan and vowed Turkey would continue to support Albania in every area including politics, military, economy and culture.

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