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Turkey’s EU Minister: ‘Erdoganophobia exists in Europe’

President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan delivers a speech during a symposium on presidential system ahead of referendum on constitutional change in Istanbul, Turkey on February 11, 2017 [Kayhan Özer / Anadolu Agency]
President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan delivers a speech during a symposium on presidential system ahead of referendum on constitutional change in Istanbul, Turkey on February 11, 2017 [Kayhan Özer / Anadolu Agency]

“Erdoganophobia” has existed in Europe for a long time, based on Islamophobia and xenophobia, Turkey’s EU Minister Omer Celik said in an article published Saturday.

The term was used in apparent reference to the lack of support shown  to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan by EU member states.

“European diplomats are talking about constitutional reform in Turkey without knowing about the content of it,” Celik told French newspaper Le Monde.

He said constitutional reform in Turkey will force the president to relinquish powers rather than increase them and the position would be subject to prosecution.

“Turkish people will largely support this reform because the July 15 coup attempt exposed the weaknesses of the current system,” Celik said.

“The coup attempt was done by an organization loyal to a heretic religious belief. Their leader is in Pennsylvania, US,” Celik told the French 24 television station in reference to Fetullah Gulen who the Turkish government accuses of being the mastermind of the failed putsch.

Half of the generals were involved in the coup attempt and the government will remove any military personnel found to be associated with the coup attempt, according to Celik, who said that Fetullah Gulen’s supporters have tried for 50 years and infiltrated key segments of the Turkish state. He added:

One of the top judges confessed at the prosecution and said that they were taking orders from Fetullah Gulen on important documents

Following the coup attempt, the Turkish army entered Syria in an effort to clear terror elements from Turkey’s border.

“This army made operations against Daesh and for the first time NATO border was cleared from Daesh. Our army did not weaken, but became stronger,” Celik added.

EU Turkey refugee agreement

Celik said Erdogan showed great leadership on the EU-Turkey refugee agreement.

“The real threat came from European leaders. France had to accept 17,000 refugees but it accepted only 2,000 until now. Many European countries did not accept any refugees,” Celik said.

He said Turkey does not profit from the situation, only Europe has gains and visa free travel for Turkish citizens in the EU was not granted.

“When our president is reacting to this, they are blaming him. Europe is the one who did not keep its promises, 3 billion euros aid [to refugees in Turkey] was not sent,” Celik added.

Under the deal, the EU has pledged aid to meet the needs of refugees in Turkey, as well as visa liberalization and speeding up talks regarding Turkey’s accession to the bloc, in exchange for Turkey stemming the flow of refugees seeking to enter Europe.

The EU is supposed to provide €6 billion ($6.8 billion) in aid to help Turkey care for millions of refugees. The EU will disburse the initially allocated €3 billion ($3.4 billion) under the Facility for Refugees in Turkey and ensure funding of additional projects for those under temporary protection identified with input from Turkey.

Celik on Friday ended a two-day visit to France where he met with top French officials.

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