‘Turkey still recovering from last year’s coup attempt’

Shalini Sharma

Recounting the one-year period that has passed since the coup attempt took place, the Turkish Ambassador said that 300 institutions that had been shut down have been reopened and lauded India’s decision to stand by Turkey at the time

A year after Turkey successfully foiled a coup attempt against state institutions by a faction within the Turkish Armed Forces, Turkish ambassador Sakir Ozkan Torunlar addressed a press conference in Delhi and looked back at the year that was marked by a widespread purge launched by the government against those involved and dubbed the incident as the worst act of terror from which the country is still trying to recover.

The coup had left over 300 people dead and more than 2,100 injured. Many government buildings, including the Turkish Parliament and the Presidential Palace, were bombed. In the period that followed, the Turkish government was accused by critics of using the coup as an excuse to crack down on dissenters, including journalists, teachers and judges. Torunlar said that most of the journalists who had been placed under custody have been released and those who have been convicted were not charged for what they wrote, published or broadcast but for their links to Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish preacher and former political ally of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan currently in exile in the United States. The Turkish government believes that he orchestrated the July 15 coup d’etat.

“Turkish authorities have established through investigation that the coup was plotted by Gulen,” said Torunlar. Recounting the one-year period that has passed since the coup took place, the ambassador said that 300 institutions that had been shut down have been reopened and appreciated India’s decision to stand by the country at the time. The envoy also said that Turkey was satisfied with the steps India had taken against Gulenists, without elaborating on the nature of the measures.

On the proposal made by Erdogan during an interview to an English news channel to hold a “multilateral dialogue” to settle the Jammu and Kashmir issue, the Turkish envoy said that the statement had been wrongly translated from Turkish to English. He said that Turkey had only offered to play a role in the bilateral dialogue between India and Pakistan “if requested.” “We wish resolution of this issue (Kashmir) but will help only if asked. In his interview to the Indian channel, President Erdogan’s comments were mistranslated. He did not say that Turkey would mediate though we would like a resolution of this issue,” Torunlar said.

A satellite channel who had interviewed Erdogan before his recent visit had issued a press release in which the President was quoted as saying, “We should not allow more casualties to occur and by strengthening multilateral dialogue, we can be involved, and through multilateral dialogue, I think we have to seek out ways to settle this question once and for all, which will benefit both countries.”

Courtesy