TURKEY

All terror attacks should be condemned: Turkey's Çelik

ALL TERROR ATTACKS SHOULD BE CONDEMNED: TURKEYS ÇELIK

Turkey's EU minister on Friday expressed disappointment over the belated efforts of its Western allies to condemn last year's defeated coup, saying "A terrorist attack in Ankara, Baghdad, Islamabad, Paris or Manchester should equally be condemned."

Writing for EU observer, a Brussels-based website, Ömer Çelik argued, "There should be no discrimination between different forms of terrorism and various terrorist organisations whether it is Daesh, the PKK or FETO" -- the Fetullah Terrorist Organization -- the group responsible for last year's defeated coup in Turkey.

Since the PKK resumed its armed campaign against Turkey in July 2015, it has been responsible for the deaths of some 1,200 Turkish security personnel and civilians, including many women and children.

"It was disappointing for Turkey to feel the lack of full support of its long-standing western allies right after the coup [attempt]," said Çelik.

"Nevertheless," he added, Turkey appreciated "the belated efforts" to condemn the attack and to show solidarity with the Turkish people.

"For us," Çelik said, "a terrorist attack in Ankara, Baghdad, Islamabad, Paris or Manchester should equally be condemned."

TURNING POINTS
Stating that each nation has major turning points in their history, Çelik said Turkey has gone through several difficult phases throughout its nearly 100-year history since being founded as a republic in 1923.

With underlying goals of "upholding universal values such as democracy, the rule of law and reaching the highest standards for all our citizens," Çelik said Turkey's quest for EU membership should be seen in this perspective.

Recalling the brave stance against the putschists on July 15, Çelik said Turkish citizens' resistance became a symbol for "all who undertake a struggle for democratic values."

"The people of Turkey were united as a whole, including opposition parties and civil society organizations, as they stood against the coup," he said.

"Unfortunately," Çelik added, "Turkey has a bitter political history marked with several coups and various types of military interventions against the will of the people," saying that the July 15 defeated coup attempt mounted by FETO was the most dangerous for Turkish democracy if it had succeeded.

"For the first time in Turkey, coup-plotters opened fire directly on citizens, bombarded the parliament, as well as the premises of the Presidential Palace," he said.

Çelik said that following the defeated coup, thousands of FETO members who had infiltrated state bodies -- especially the army, judiciary, and police force -- were dismissed.

"With the cleansing of the members of FETO from the state institutions, Turkey has now become even more transparent," Çelik added.

-EMERGENCY RULE
He said the declaration of emergency rule on the heels of the coup bid was the first step towards defeating FETO's complex network.

"It was not just legitimate for Turkey but was the only option," he said, adding that such legal measures are applied by all countries when needed to cope with extraordinary situations.

"The hierarchy between the civilian authorities and military has been redefined, to assure the full control of the civilian over the military," Çelik said.

Çelik said Turkey continued its struggle for democracy even under emergency rule, stressing that it has been careful to uphold the rule of law "throughout this unique process."

Attempts to abandon Turkey in its fight against FETO and other terrorist organizations "are biased, politically motivated and cannot impinge upon our motivation to pursue the golden goals of freedom, democracy and the rule of law," Çelik said.

Citing the nearly 3 million mostly Syrian refugees Turkey is now hosting, he said Turkey never neglected its international commitments amid the coup attempt and other terrorist attacks.

Çelik also highlighted international support in the fight against FETO.

"Most of the perpetrators are now residing in the U.S. and EU member states and they are seeking asylum. We regret to witness an increasing number of the acceptance of asylum applications of FETO members. It will be a grave mistake to tolerate FETO members in any country," he said.

Çelik said as a candidate for EU membership, Turkey needs more support for upholding universal values "within our struggle" which will enhance mutual trust and solidarity.

"What we need at the anniversary of the coup attempt is not sympathy for coup-plotters and members of terrorist organisations as well as biased and groundless criticism but more cooperation, dialogue and understanding."

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