Turkey’s Erdogan slams West for failure to show solidarity over coup attempt
ANKARA/ISTANBU – President Tayyip Erdogan condemned Western countries on Friday for failing to show solidarity with Turkey over the recent failed coup, saying those who worried over the fate of coup supporters instead of Turkish democracy could not be friends of Ankara.
Erdogan also rejected Western criticism of purges under way in Turkey’s military and other state institutions which saw more than 60,000 people detained, removed or suspended over suspected links with the coup attempt, suggesting some in the United States were on the side of the plotters.
“The attitude of many countries and their officials over the coup attempt in Turkey is shameful in the name of democracy,” Erdogan told hundreds of supporters at the presidential palace in the Turkish capital.
“Any country and any leader who does not worry about the life of Turkish people and our democracy as much as they worry about the fate of coupists are not our friends,” said Erdogan, who narrowly escaped capture and perhaps death on the night of the coup.
Turkey’s Western allies have condemned the coup in which Erdogan said 237 people were killed and more than 2,100 were wounded, but have been rattled by the scale of the crackdown in the aftermath. Images of detained soldiers with bruises and bandages have worried civil rights groups over mistreatment.
The purges have targeted supporters of US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, accused by Ankara of masterminding the July 15-16 failed coup, but Erdogan’s critics say he is using the measures to crack down on any dissent.
Erdogan also criticized the European Council and the European Union, which Turkey aspires to be a part of, for their failure to pay a visit to offer condolences, saying their criticism was ‘shameful’.
The Director of US National Intelligence, James Clapper, said on Thursday the purges were harming the fight against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq by sweeping away Turkish officers who had worked closely with the United States.
The head of US Central Command, General Joseph Votel, said he believed some of the military figures whom the United States had worked with were in jail. Votel’s comments drew condemnation from Erdogan.
“Instead of thanking this country which repelled a coup attempt, you take the side of the coup plotters. The putschist is in your country already,” Erdogan said, referring to Gulen, who denied any involvement in the coup attempt.
In a statement released by the US military on Friday, General Votel said any claims that he was involved in a failed coup attempt in Turkey were “unfortunate and completely inaccurate”.
White House spokesman Eric Schultz has also dismissed claims that Votel supported the coup plotters, and referred to US President Barack Obama’s comments from last week saying any reports that Washington had prior knowledge of the attempted overthrow were completely false.
Erdogan has blamed Gulen for masterminding the attempted coup and has called on Washington to extradite him. Turkish officials have suggested the US can extradite him based on strong suspicion while President Obama last week insisted Turkey must first present evidence of Gulen’s alleged complicity in the failed coup.