Statement by the Turkish Delegation on current developments in Turkey, 1110th Meeting of the Permanent Council

AGİT DT 21.07.2016
Thank you, Mr. Chairperson.

Turkey has been undergoing an extraordinary and historic period. You have no doubt been following developments in the media. In addition to the briefing by our Ministry to foreign missions in Ankara, our Embassies at numerous capitals have also been sharing information with your authorities. Allow me to now inform the Permanent Council about the thwarted coup attempt in Turkey and subsequent events.

Before I begin, let me reiterate our thanks to all friendly governments which condemned the terrorist coup attempt and gave support to our legally elected Government from the President down.

Mr. Chairperson,

On the evening of July 15th, a faction within the Turkish Armed Forces attempted to stage a coup in various cities of Turkey, particularly in Ankara and Istanbul.

It became clear in a short time that this was more than a treacherous plot. It was in fact a heinous terrorist operation. The perpetrators, consisting of some elements of the Air Force, the Gendarmerie and armored units, fired indiscriminately on civilians, betrayed their commanders, used the country’s military aircraft to bomb the nation’s Parliament and the Office of the President.

The terrorists tried to broadcast their message by taking over studios of the state television broadcaster TRT and raiding private media outlets. Yet the plotters’ murderous attempt to control the country and media was unsuccessful and did not last long. From the very beginning, the chain of command and the vast majority of the Turkish Armed Forces stood up against the coup attempt. It must be noted that the Turkish media also played a key role in subsiding the plot.

But it was above all the Turkish nation, the ordinary people, who thwarted the attempted coup. They displayed a heroic stance as they took to the streets and remained defiant in the defense of democracy. The stood bravely in front of the tanks and reclaimed their democratic rights. Many gave up their lives in their quest to defend democracy - and some of you, like me, may have witnessed this on live television. Sadly, 208 of our citizens were killed and over 1.400 wounded during the ordeal. 60 of the dead are police officers, 3 are military personnel and 145 are civilians.

Mr. Chairperson,

Throughout the process, all the political parties, the Members of the Turkish Grand National Assembly and the people stood firmly by democracy, democratic politics, democratic institutions and the Constitution. A Joint Declaration in defense of democracy was issued during the extraordinary meeting of the Parliament’s General Assembly on July 16th, the English translation of which we circulated yesterday through the documents distribution system.

Our prosecutors have immediately launched the process of legal pursuit against the culprits. During the operations conducted against the terrorist group, over 7.500 individuals have been detained. Of these, 218 have been arrested so far. These figures are expected to change in time. 24 coup plotters are now identified as dead, 50 of them were captured wounded. Operations will continue as more evidence is obtained from those who were captured, and from their victims.

A group of eight involved in the coup attempt fled to Greece onboard a stolen helicopter. Necessary steps were taken for the return of the suspects and the helicopter. The helicopter was returned. We look forward to the extradition of these eight Turkish citizens from Greece as soon as possible.

In sum, the group constituting the backbone of the plotters has now been apprehended and legal processes have begun. We nevertheless remain vigilant against possible attempts by individuals or residual cells.

Mr. Chairperson,

We have solid proof that this coup attempt was staged by the Fethullah Gülen Terrorist Organization, whose Turkish acronym is FETÖ.

Our Government has constantly been exposing the real motives of this terrorist group and its leader, Fethullah Gülen, to all allies and partners. This foiled coup is the latest criminal act revealing the gravity of the danger posed by FETÖ. We call all our partners and allies to take all possible measures to prevent the activities of this group on their soil.

Our President, our Prime Minister, our Government, the Members of the Turkish Grand National Assembly and the Turkish people all together defeated this coup attempt and stood by democracy and rule of law.

Now is the time to sanction such treacherous and murderous actions. The Government is proceeding with all measures warranted by the circumstances in order to ensure that criminals are held accountable for their deeds. Among these measures, a state of emergency has been declared last night throughout the country for a period of three months. As announced by the President, this measure is not intended to curtail democratic rights and freedoms, but, to the contrary, to ensure their protection.

The terrorists are now subject to legal proceedings. The state of emergency will also help expedite these proceedings. All within Turkey and without may rest assured that justice will be served with full observance of all national and international obligations and standards.

Finally, despite all our outreach efforts and the transparent media reporting, we are both dismayed and frustrated by certain distorted comments and spinning by certain foreign politicians. While we hope to believe that these comments do not reflect the positions of the Governments of our partners, it is obvious that such statements are not helpful in our efforts to defend our common values.

Mr. Chairperson,

You referred to a statement by the Representative on Freedom of the Media issued today as the PC was already underway. The RFOM’s mandate revolves around the freedom of expression, which is among the rights and freedoms enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Let me further remind that Article 30 of that Declaration states quite plainly, and I quote: “Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein”. End of quote. The terrorist FETÖ organization we are currently taking measures against aims, as demonstrated by the coup attempt they instigated, to destroy these rights and freedoms which we all hold dear, including the freedom of expression and of the media. The lawful measures adopted in my country thus serve the purpose of protecting those very same freedoms that the RFOM is mandated to monitor and uphold.

Earlier elements in my statement as well as this last argument constitute a response also to the statement by ODIHR Director Link, issued again as the PC was underway. I will nevertheless draw attention to how Mr. Link springs to qualify a possible debate that has not even started about certain measures as “crossing the line”. While such a stance makes us wonder whether the RFOM will react to this attempt to stifle free debate, I will end by underlining once again that Turkey has abolished the death penalty long ago, is party to international instruments precluding capital punishment, and is fully aware of applicable international standards and its international obligations; and that speculative comments based on false assumptions and tainted with haste and prejudice are far from being helpful and constructive.

Thank you.

Second Intervention:

Thank you, Mr. Chairperson.

I would like to thank all the delegations that have taken the floor under this current issue for their interest in Turkey, as well as for the expressions of support they have voiced. We have taken note of their remarks and will convey their contents to Ankara. We were pleased to observe that our statement has also been duly noted by fellow participating States.

I do, however, sense the need to perhaps highlight even further the gravity of the threat posed by the FETÖ terrorist organization. I had referred to their use of state military assets to bomb the nation’s Parliament, and how they opened indiscriminate fire on civilians. But let me add that their infiltration into the Government apparatus was of such extent and depth that even the closest military aides of the highest government officials are implicated in the attempted coup. One should also evaluate this situation against the background that the judiciary and the police had been targeted by the terrorist organization with even higher priority than the military. The need to investigate, identify and root out all the FETÖ elements from all state structures is, therefore, no less than a must. In other words, Turkey is faced with an extremely grave danger which aimed at the wholesale hijacking of the state apparatus.

The validity of charges, if any, and the eventual sentences those convicted would face, will be weighed and determined by the independent Turkish courts. I repeat that there should be no doubt that the process will be conducted as usual with full respect to fundamental rights and freedoms and the rule of law, as prescribed by law and with full observance of due process.

Thank you.