Date posted: April 8, 2014
The Turkic American Alliance (TAA) has called on Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu to provide evidence substantiating his recent claims that individuals affiliated with Turkish schools abroad sent letters of complaint to foreign officials about Turkey.
Davutoğlu made the claim while responding to widely circulating reports of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s launching of a campaign against Turkish schools abroad that are affiliated with the Hizmet movement, inspired by Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen. Last week, Davutoğlu admitted that Erdoğan’s government had given instructions to Turkish embassies and representations abroad to urge the closure of Hizmet-affiliated schools.
Speaking to reporters in New York, Davutoğlu defended the government’s smear campaign by saying that the reason behind this was that a number of civil society representatives had sent letters to foreign officials expressing complaints about Turkey.
Davutoğlu, who did not give details regarding the content of the letters, said that the government must take measures. When asked whether Turkish schools sent those letters to foreign officials, Davutoğlu replied: “Not the schools [themselves], but well-known civil society organizations and representatives from those institutions sent the letters,” said Davutoğlu.
“I wouldn’t say this if I hadn’t been asked, but I mean the [Turkish] schools in the United States… Some civil society representatives complain about their own countries by sending letters to foreign officials. Some foreign officials conveyed those letters to me. We have the right to question whom these efforts serve,” said Davutoğlu.
In response to Davutoğlu’s ambiguous remarks, Faruk Taban, head of the TAA, which is known as an umbrella institution for a number of Turkish associations based in the United States, issued a written statement. Taban said that Davutoğlu had claimed that in the statement, civil society members linked to Turkish schools abroad were trying to discredit Turkey. According to Taban, Davutoğlu has offered no evidence to support his claim and that the government’s attempt to shut down Turkish schools is not understandable to those who love Turkey.
Stating that the TAA was in support of entrepreneurial ventures by Americans of Turkish origin, Taban said that members of the association were astonished and upset about Davutoğlu’s statement regarding Turkish schools. Taban said Turkish schools that exist in 160 countries help Turkey improve its relations with these countries. Taban also commented that these schools should be appreciated for their contributions to Turkey’s prestige while Turkey is still a candidate for a non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council. “If there is an element of a crime [involving Turkish schools], we are calling on him [Davutoğlu] to take legal action, otherwise we are calling on him to apologize from the Turkish public and people who benefit from these schools,” Taban said.
Source: Todays Zaman , April 8, 2014