Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Turkey to US: Don’t Forsake Ties Over a ‘Terrorist’
Tue Aug 9, 2016 9:30PM

Turkey warns that the US should not sacrifice its relations with Ankara over a “terrorist,” reiterating its call on Washington to hand over Fethullah Gulen who it blames for the last month failed coup.

Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag made the remark during an interview with the state-run Anadolu news agency on Tuesday.

On July 15, a faction of the Turkish military declared that it was in control of the country and that the government was no longer in charge. The coup attempt was gradually suppressed and over 60,000 people in the military, judiciary, civil service and education have so far been sacked, dismissed or detained over allegations of involvement in the putsch and their links to Gulen.

"If (the United States) does not return him, it will have sacrificed Turkey to a terrorist," added Bozdag (seen below), noting the he believes that Washington would do what is right.

Gulen, an outspoken opponent of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been living in self-imposed exile in the United States since 1999, and has firmly denied the allegations against him. He argues that the move could have been orchestrated by the government to purge its opponents.

Bozdag went on to note that Turkish anti-US sentiment has reached its "its peak" over the Gulen issue.

He also announced that Turkey has arrested over 16,000 people over the suspicion that they played a role in the failed coup.

Meanwhile, Turkish Prime Minster Binali Yildirim (seen above) has vowed to bring the “terrorist” Gulen to justice.

"That terrorist head will come to Turkey and be brought to account. That man who ordered the bombing of Turkey and the parliament, who pointed Turkey's armaments toward the Turkish people will get the punishment he deserves," he said.

Also on Tuesday, Turkey’s religious affairs state agency, Diyanet, announced that 2,500 of its members had recently been suspended, bring the total of those suspended since the coup to over 3,500. The agency is tasked with taking care of the country’s 80,000 mosques.

"The commission created for this purpose (to find Gulen sympathizers) continued its rigorous work," said a statement released by the agency.

Turkey threatens suspension of EU refugee deal

Turkey’s EU Affairs Minister Omer Celik (seen below) has warned that if the union fails to honor an EU visa-free travel deal for Turkish nationals, Ankara will scrap a refugee readmission deal with it.

“If the EU won’t provide a precise date to grant us visa-free travel, we will not implement the readmission agreement and we will not make further progress on this matter. They are asking if we are threatening the European Union. We don’t threaten anyone, we don’t blackmail anyone,” said Celik.

The EU is in a standoff with Turkey on the future of an agreement signed in March to stem the flow of refugees and asylum seekers to Europe.

Under the deal, Turkey has committed to taking back all the asylum seekers and refugees who have used the Aegean Sea to illegally reach Greece. In return, Ankara was promised financial aid, the acceleration of visa liberalization talks and progress in its EU membership negotiations.

Negotiations over the deal for visa-free travel have been faltering. Turkey reportedly refuses to make changes to its anti-terror laws, as required by the EU.

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