Top EU officials admit Europe underestimated coup attempt

MERVE AYDOĞAN @mgulaydogan
Published 30.08.2016 22:59

The German member of the European Parliament (EP) and the current chairman of the European Parliament's Committee on Foreign Affairs (AFET), Elmar Brok, spoke at the committee's parliamentary session on Tuesday, saying that he has taken a different view on Gülen-related issues following his recent visit to Turkey. EP rapporteur for Turkey Kati Piri echoed Brok's remarks, stressing that Europe underestimated the effects that the July 15 coup attempt had on Turkish society.

Chairman Brok and EP rapporteur Piri paid an official visit to Turkey on Aug. 23-25 where they met with Turkish officials and the representatives of political parties as well as representatives of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in efforts to express the EU's solidarity with the Turkish people following the July 15 coup attempt and to gain first-hand information regarding recent developments in Turkey. Speaking at the session on Tuesday, Chairman Brok provided details on the recent trip to Turkey, saying, "We are happy that all four parties, including the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), opposed the military coup in the Turkish Parliament. All the democratically elected parties were against it."

Underlining that Turkey has experienced a shock, Brok said, "on a personal note, after this visit, I have taken a different view than I had before regarding various Gülen-related issues. This is a group which has developed as a secret alliance over the decades and has invaded the state this way. With regards to the [infiltration] situation within various ministries and the army, I think the numbers are much more serious than we realized." Continuing by stressing that the EP must be aware of the situation regarding the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ), Brok said that "the Gülen Movement has been built up quite systematically from an educational level to instruct young people and has created interactive movement over many decades."

Brok continued with his remarks by urging that empathy be shown to Turkey regarding the coup attempt, noting: "You have to imagine how you would feel at the EP in that situation, if 125 EP members were killed. You have to think it in these terms, by imagining the French National Assembly or Westminster being hit by [their] own army from helicopters, aircraft and so on." Adding to the chairman's statements, EP rapporteur Piri said that "we really did underestimate the effect that they [referring to coup plotters] had on Turkish society."

Following her meetings with Turkish officials which included members of the opposition parties and the representatives of human rights organizations and journalists, Piri said: "Of course our criticism was present after seeing how Turkey dealt with the aftermath of the coup attempt but if I may speak for myself I did underestimate the traumatic impact of what happened that night had on Turkish society."Emphasizing that "if the execution of the coup would have begun at 3:00 a.m. the next morning as planned, we would have seen a completely different outcome," Piri said, adding that "the purge is mainly against Gülen supporters."

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