Erdogan accuses West of backing terrorism and coup plotters

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Western nations of supporting terrorism and backing coup plotters in Turkey, in scathing remarks made Tuesday at a foreign investors' meeting in Ankara.

"Those who we thought were our friends take the side of putschists and terrorists," Erdogan said and alleged the coup was orchestrated from abroad.

He accused Western countries - among them France, Germany, Austria, Belgium - of failing to support Turkey in the aftermath of the failed coup and blamed those "who cannot stand the rise of Turkey" for the plot.

"Unfortunately, the West supports terrorism and takes the side of the coups," he said in the nationally televised speech from the presidential palace in the capital.

Erdogan was repeating talking points he has been making for several days, but he escalated the rhetoric. Among his points of contention: no high-ranking European leader has come to Ankara since the July 15 coup attempt.

Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjorn Jagland is due in Ankara on Wednesday and will meet Erdogan and ministers.

In the latest warning about the migration deal between Turkey and the European Union reached in March, Erdogan said Ankara "protected Europe," but the agreement could be canceled if Brussels does not meet its commitments.

The EU has said visa-free access for Turkish citizens to the bloc depends on Ankara making several reforms, including narrowing its vague anti-terrorism laws which critics say are prone to abuse.

US Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford was in the capital on Monday to stress the "importance of the US-Turkey relationship" and said he had positive meetings with Turkish leaders. He visited the parliament building, which was bombed by rogue soldiers during the putsch.

Turkey's pro-government media has been sharply critical of Western countries with some outlets directly accusing the United States, including a general and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), of being behind the coup, without presenting any evidence.

A Turkish lawyer, Mert Eryilmaz, even went so far as to file a criminal complaint against three top US officials, including Dunford and James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, for allegedly supporting Gulen and backing the coup.

Last week, a prosecutor alleged the CIA and the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) helped train coup plotters.

Fethullah Gulen, the Turkish preacher who Erdogan blames for the coup, lives in the United States.

Turkey is demanding his extradition, but the US is insisting on due process, including a formal request with evidence, angering Erdogan.

In his speech, Erdogan asked how the two countries could be strategic partners, while Gulen lives in Pennsylvania, accusing Washington of "harbouring" his rival.

The president and his supporters are also angry at European nations who have voiced criticism of the crackdown in Turkey after the coup, which has seen tens of thousands of civil servants suspended and more than 10,000 people arrested.

Moreover, Germany banned Erdogan from delivering an address via live video stream to a demonstration over the weekend organized by the president's supporters, further fueling tensions between Ankara and Berlin, which were already heated.

Erdogan, in his remarks about Western nations supporting terrorism, noted that a top official in the armed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) was allowed to address a rally via videolink in 2011.

The government says Gulen's followers carried out the coup, which left more than 260 people dead.

Government critics note that Erdogan was in an alliance with Gulen for a decade, until the two split in recent years, and the cleric's supporters were allowed into the state bureaucracy.

Gulen also had ties to previous administrations, Turkish media outlets have reported, though he often ran afoul of the old secular-military establishment, pushing him into exile in 1999.

"They were knowingly and willingly placed in the state," said Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the head of the centre-left People's Republic Party (CHP), the largest opposition bloc.

Last update: Tue, 02/08/2016 - 18:10

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