As part of the “15 Panels on July 15th" Programme organized by the Directorate of Communications on the occasion of the 4th anniversary of the heinous coup attempt perpetrated by Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), the impact of the July 15 coup attempt on Turkish foreign policy was discussed during an online seminar held in London.
The panel moderated by Director of SETA (Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research) Security Studies Prof. Murat Yeşiltaş was participated by Turkey’s Ambassador to London Ümit Yalçın, University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) Emeritus Professor William Hale, AK Party İstanbul Deputy Ahmet Berat Çonkar and Hudson Institute senior fellow and Portuguese politician Bruno Maçaes.
"It was an explicit attack against Turkey’s legitimacy"
During the program which explained the true face of FETO on the occasion of July 15 Democracy and National Unity Day, Ambassador Yalçın said that FETO’s coup attempt did not only concern Turkey’s domestic policy but also brought along several changes in Turkish foreign policy.
Underlining that it was the state and the nation that was attacked on the night of July 15, the Parliament was bombed, and it was an attempt on President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s life, Yalçın continued:
"It was an explicit attack against Turkey’s legitimacy. Just as we defended our legitimacy on the night of the coup, we stood by the legitimacy in areas directly relevant to Turkey’s security. We advocated the rights of Turkish Cypriots in Cyprus. We have stood behind the legitimate demands of the Syrian people against the illegitimate administration in Syria. We are siding with the legitimate government in Libya. We have stood by legitimacy all along.”
Reminding that Fetullah Gülen, the leader of FETO, still resided in the USA, Yalçın pointed out that this affected Turkish-US relations.
Reporting that the foreign guests were reluctant and withdrawn for the panel invitations on the July 15 treacherous coup attempt, by putting forward some justifications such as "This is your domestic issue, it happened and ended within a night." He stated that, however, the coup attempt could not be explained just as fait accompli.
Pointing to the solidarity demonstrated by the UK after the coup attempt, Yalçın said, "The UK condemned the treacherous coup attempt openly and immediately. By sending the Secretary of State to Turkey, the country demonstrated solidarity with us."
"Syrians should be enabled to return to their homes freely"
Drawing attention to the drawbacks to reveal the impact of the coup attempt on Turkish foreign policy, William Hale, lecturer at the Department of Political and International Studies, SOAS University of London said that it affected Turkey-US relations dramatically.
Touching upon the impact of Turkey’s Operations Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch carried out in Syria, on Turkey-US relations, Hale expressed that the operations conducted with the Free Syrian Army between 2016-2018 in Jarabulus, Azez, and Afrin led to big challenges in Turkish-US relations.
Warning that Western countries should take steps for a solution in Syria, Hale said, "All parties should prioritize ending the killings in Syria. Syrians should be enabled to return to their homes freely."
"Turkey has adopted an independent policy while observing its interests"
Stressing that the July 15 treacherous coup attempt was a turning point for Turkish democracy, AK Party Istanbul Deputy Ahmet Berat Çonkar stated that Turkish people sacrificed their lives to avert the coup.
"With the purge of FETO members, the Turkish army has gained the capacity to conduct more effective operations against terrorist groups operating outside of Turkey,” said Çonkar and indicated: “The purge of FETO members from the system had critical importance for Turkey to advocate its national interests at home and abroad. Unless the system was purged of the FETO members, it would not be possible to take an active position in foreign policy."
Indicating that Turkey had a different point of view from its allies regarding regional issues, Çonkar noted the following:
"We have observed the national interests of our country in Syria. We have acted in line with the security of our country in the Eastern Mediterranean. We have seen that our allies joined their hands against us in the Eastern Mediterranean and tried to leave Turkey alone. Turkey has adopted an independent policy while observing its interests.
When we have supported the legitimate government in Libya, Turkey has been left alone. We want to cooperate with our allies in NATO and the European Union. However, our allies need to acknowledge and understand Turkey's legitimate rights in Syria, Cyprus, and the Eastern Mediterranean."