Daily Sabah revealed on Monday that Gülenists funded dozens of trips to Turkey for staff members of the European Parliament (EP) and European Commission (EC) to develop stronger ties with high-level EU officials and then use these connections to leak and manipulate Turkey's EU progress report. EU officials remain silent over the allegations, even forgoing their right of reply.
The Gülen Movement, led by fugitive cleric Fethullah Gülen, has been referred to as the Gülenist Terror Organization (FETÖ) by a prosecutor in a recent indictment. The organization is considered a national security threat by the National Security Council and is accused of infiltrating state institutions in Turkey and attempting to overthrow the government.
According to the Daily Sabah article that utilized EC and EP sources that spoke on the condition of anonymity, Gülen Movement-affiliated business associations, such as the Turkish Confederation of Businessmen and Industrialists (TUSKON), have arranged and funded dozens of trips to Turkey to forge closer ties with high-level EU officials and politicians since 2009. The sources accused EC official Christos Makridis, the former deputy head of the Turkey Unit at the Directorate General of Neighborhood and Enlargement Negotiations, of having close connections to Gülenists. Makridis served as the deputy head of the Turkey Unit from 2006 to 2014 and allegedly participated in several Gülenist-funded trips to Turkey. Moreover, British politician Sir Graham Watson, the president of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Party (ALDE Party), also participated in Gülenist-funded trips and allegedly has close ties with prominent Gülenist figures, sources further claimed. According to the allegations, European officials manipulated and leaked Turkey's progress report to journalists with links to the Gülenist Movement.
As a rule of objective journalism, Daily Sabah contacted EU officials and reminded them of their right of reply concerning these allegations. Furthermore, Daily Sabah also contacted EP Rapporteur for Turkey Kati Piri and asked whether she would request an investigation from the EC of these claims. However, EU officials remain silent over the allegations. In line with these claims, Turkey's EU Minister Beril Dedeoğlu said on Tuesday that she is under the impression that lobbies working against Turkey heavily influenced EU officials, leading to the inclusion of unfair criticisms in the report. Minister Dedeoğlu further stated that prior to the release of the report, some EU officials attempted an underhanded proposal to soften the tone of the criticism in the report if Turkey accepted EU terms on the refugee issue.