The China part of the webinar series titled “15 Panels on July 15th” organized by the Directorate of Communications was streamed online.
Turkey's Press Counsellor in Beijing Ali Ünal moderated the panel titled “Prospective Cooperation between Turkey and China on the Fourth Anniversary of July 15th Coup Attempt” organized via video-conference, and Turkish Ambassador to Beijing Abdülkadir Emin Önen, Director of the Centre for Global Studies of Shanghai University Prof. Guo Changgang, Member of the Presidential Security and Foreign Policies Council and Rector of Altınbaş University Prof. Çağrı Erhan attended the panel.
Ambassador Önen recalled that FETO attacked civilians with air and ground vehicles on July 15 and tried to assassinate President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and to capture the Republic of Turkey.
Reiterating that the premises of Turkey’s important security units, particularly the Grand National Assembly of Turkey (GNAT), were targeted by the organization, Önen noted the following:
"On that sinister night, I was at the premises of the Turkish Parliament. When we learned that the bloody-minded terrorists were trying to capture TRT, Mr. Süleyman Soylu, now he is Turkish Minister of Interior, and I drove there to defend our national broadcasting channel in order to curb the disinformation attempts of the FETO. With the brave stance of the Turkish people against the coup plotters, we were able to prevent the capture of TRT by those heinous perpetrators. I can say that we may have experienced the longest night ever on 15 July 2016.”
Stating that after the coup attempt was averted, the then Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs of China Zhang Ming paid a visit to Turkey, Önen said: “During those tough times, it was important to witness the sincere support of our true friends. In this regard, I would like to stress that the visit of Chinese Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs H.E. Zhang Ming to Turkey in a short span of time after the failed coup attempt is still remembered, and will always be remembered by Turkish nation. China, at a critical juncture, stood by the democratically-elected Turkish government and the people.”
Ambassador Önen indicated that FETO started to operate in Turkey under the guise of an ‘education movement’ back in the 1970s, and it gained influence both in public and private sector with its school networks, being involved in many illegal activities and spreading around the world.
“No country in the world should be a safe haven for FETO members”
Ambassador Önen said, “FETO is present in around 160 countries with thousands of schools, businesses, NGOs and media organs. They (FETO) constitute a direct security menace for any country. No country in the world, including China, should be a safe haven for FETO members.”
Emphasizing that FETO posed a direct threat for not only Turkey but also the countries where they could actively operate, Önen noted the following:
“In this regard, we request our Chinese interlocutors and friends to be on vigilant against FETO terrorist organization and continue cooperating with Turkey. I would like to reiterate that when the future of the Turkish nation is at stake; our brave people always defend their country at the cost of their own lives. Accordingly, on the night of July 15, the Turkish nation created a legend. Our people fought for democracy without hesitation, stood in front of the tanks, lost their precious lives, and won the battle against this evil organization.”
Referring to China-Turkey relations, Önen stated that the two countries strengthened their relations in all walks of life, the two leaders met eight times in the last five years, and the bilateral trade volume reached $21 billion in 2019 under the leadership of President Erdoğan and Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Önen also indicated that the number of Chinese tourists who came to Turkey last year exceeded 500 thousand and that the two countries exerted efforts to harmonize the Middle Corridor project with the Belt and Road Initiative, which aims to revive the ancient Silk Road.
Underlining that since the beginning of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak, solidarity between the two countries showed that China and Turkey were “real and old friends”, Önen pointed out that the following year would be the 50th anniversary of the establishment of bilateral diplomatic relations.
Önen said, “I’m highly confident that Turkey and China will enjoy a much closer friendship in the future. I believe that intellectual exchanges between the two countries will foster a mutual understanding of our peoples."
“We have encountered US sanctions against Turkey”
Emphasizing that since the Justice and Development Party came to power, Turkey had been trying to pursue a more independent foreign policy from Western and NATO block, Director of Centre for Global Studies of Shanghai University Prof. Guo stated the following: “The US definitely does not want this. The failed coup of July 15, when considered from different perspectives, was one of the plans that the US prepared to change the Turkish government.”
Expressing that Turkey had great changes since the failed coup attempt of July 15, such as the transition to the Presidential System of Government, Prof. Guo said: “All these kinds of changes seemed unacceptable to the US and we witnessed the US sanctions on Turkey. On August 1, 2018, the US Ministry of Finance declared sanctions upon two senior officials from Turkey because of Pastor Andrew Brunson.”
Pointing out the assistance provided by China for Turkey after the coup attempt, Guo said that the recent rumours that Turkey and the US would draw close again concerned him and that the US would use Turkey to restrict China as a result of this rapprochement.
“We must take further steps against this global terrorist organization”
In his speech titled “FETO as an international terrorist organization”, Çağrı Erhan stated that FETO was a new generation terrorist organization.
Pointing out that FETO used religion as a kind of camouflage within the structure it adopted in education, business, and non-governmental organizations around the world, Erhan added: “We must take further steps against this global terrorist organization.”
Underlining that FETO used peaceful discourses to serve its own purposes, Erhan noted that all countries, including China, should be vigilant against both this new generation terrorist organization and terrorist organizations that can use such methods.