During a speech on Turkish foreign policy at the Council of Higher Education (YÖK) complex, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu spoke to academics specializing in international relations and political science, stressing that the fight against the Gülenist Terrorist Group (FETÖ) will continue to be a top priority on the agenda of Turkish foreign policy makers in 2017.
Expressing that the Turkish government has gained significant ground in its fight against FETÖ and its affiliates abroad, Minister Çavuşoğlu said the Turkish government has blacklisted FETÖ as a terrorist organization in every country which has been visited by Turkish officials. Moreover, Çavuşoğlu pointed out that the government has also closed down numerous FETÖ-affiliated associations abroad, saying: "Their [FETÖ] schools are either taken over by the country they are in, closed down or transferred to our Maarif Foundation. We will continue to hound this terrorist group in Turkey and abroad, and will make them pay. We have promised the people of Turkey and we will keep our word," the minister added, saying fugitive members of the terrorist group are being extradited to Turkey for trial, expressing that some have been captured recently and there is an immense effort to close down or take over governmental institutions, associations and NGOs abroad which are affiliated with FETÖ, Çavuşoğlu said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is cooperating with Turkey's Ministry of National Education (MEB) and the Maarif Foundation. In addition, Çavuşoğlu said 120 institutions were either closed down or taken over by government-appointed officials.
Çavuşoğlu said many fugitives have been extradited to Turkey, noting: "We are working diligently and in close cooperation with the Ministry of Justice to bring the FETÖ leader back to Turkey. We will continue to focus on the extradition of FETÖ leader Fetullah Gülen and we will work closely with the Trump administration to achieve this," said Çavuşoğlu. Expressing that he will be present in Washington for Donald Trump's inauguration ceremony on behalf of Turkey on Friday Jan. 20, Çavuşoğlu said they will concentrate their efforts on improving Turkey-U.S. relations with the new administration.
Meanwhile, during his speech, Çavuşoğlu affirmed that FETÖ was involved in the recent terrorist attacks that took place in Turkey, including the assassination of Russia's Ambassador to Ankara Karlov and the bombing attacks that were claimed by the PKK terrorist organization. Highlighting that FETÖ operates in cooperation with other terrorist organizations such as the PKK, Daesh and the PKK's Syrian offshoot the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its armed wing, the People's Protection Units (YPG), Çavuşoğlu said the attacks in Istanbul, Kayseri and Ankara last year, which were carried out by YPG terrorists with ties to training camps in Syria, were plotted with the help of FETÖ. The minister said, "We know that FETÖ is in the same league with the PKK and that this dangerous group is leaking any state secrets they cannot use for their own exploitative measures to assist the PKK," asserted Çavuşoğlu.
Çavuşoğlu to attend Trump's inauguration ceremony
Meanwhile, Çavuşoğlu announced Tuesday that he will attend the incoming Trump administration's inauguration ceremony, which is due to be held on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington D.C. on Friday, Jan. 20.
The official announcement came after recently increasing questions over whether the Trump administration will normalize the frozen relations between Turkey and the U.S.
Turkish officials previously said Turkey will cooperate with the new U.S. administration since many of Turkey's views overlap with the incoming president.