‘Tragic events in Belgium showed that our warnings were not taken into consideration,’ president tells Turkish War College
ISTANBUL – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday said that Turkey will continue its way without compromising on democracy, the state of law, and human rights, despite the terrorists and all the internal and external powers supporting them.
“Three hundred and fifty-five members of the security forces, including 215 soldiers, 133 police, and seven village guards, have been martyred since last July, when operations [in Turkey’s southeast] began,” Erdogan said in a speech to the Turkish War College, adding that 5,359 terrorists have been neutralized as dead, wounded, or seized in anti-terror operations in Turkey and abroad.
Erdogan said that Turkey has been fighting terrorists for many years and with success, but that the terrorists remain as their resources have yet to be eliminated.
“We know that our security forces’ task is competing against terrorists. But the government has another duty: fighting against terror and terrorism”, he stated.
In addition to his remarks about terrorism, Erdogan again slammed Istanbul-based diplomats for attending the espionage trial of Turkish journalists Can Dundar and Erdem Gul, Cumhuriyet daily’s editor-in-chief and Ankara bureau chief.
“A consul went to support the trial of a journalist who has been charged for espionage, and also posted a ‘cheek to cheek’ photo with the journalist,” Erdogan said.
“This person can keep his post thanks to our generosity and hospitality. But no country hosts diplomats who act like this for even for a day,” he stated.
British Consul General in Istanbul Leigh Turner last Friday posted a selfie with Dundar on Twitter with the words, “With Cumhuriyet journalist Can Dundar before opening of trial today”.
Dundar and Gul are charged with espionage, attempting to overthrow the government, and revealing state secrets over a story accusing the government of attempting to deliver arms to Syria.
On the first day of their trial in Istanbul on Friday, a number of European diplomats, including Turner and French Consul General Muriel Domenach, attended the hearing.
“There was a hearing yesterday of this known journalist,” Erdogan said during a weekend business conference in Istanbul. “The status of people participating in this trial is very important.
“Consuls serving in Istanbul attended this trial. Who are you and what business do you have there? This is not your country. You can move within your buildings and the borders of your consulate. Anything else is subject to permission”.
In January 2014, trucks belonging to Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MIT) were stopped in separate incidents on the way to Syria. Last May, Cumhuriyet published images purporting to show shells and ammunition on board the trucks.
The prosecution has called for Dundar and Gul, who were held in prison for three months in the run-up to the trial, to be sentenced to two life terms with an extra 30 years each.
They were released from prison last month after the Constitutional Court ruled their rights had been violated. Erdogan criticized the ruling, saying the court had acted against the country’s interest.
On last week’s bomb attacks in Brussels, which killed 35 and injured hundreds, Erdogan said, “We have banned 38,000 foreigners to enter Turkey because of their ties with terrorist organizations. We have caught and deported almost 3,500 of them”.
He added that around 1,000 terrorists have been jailed in Turkey.
“We warned the home countries of those who were deported and submitted the necessary information”, Erdogan stated.
“The tragic events in Belgium showed that our warnings were not taken into consideration. No action was taken on the terrorists that we reported”, he said.
Last Tuesday’s bombings at the Brussels airport and Maelbeek metro station came four days after the arrest of Paris attacks suspect Salah Abdeslam and a week after a police shootout in the Brussels district of Forest where a suspected Daesh member was shot dead.
Daesh has claimed responsibility for the attack through a news agency linked to the group.