Turkey has intensified its diplomatic efforts to reveal to the whole world the dark face of the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) since its failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has consistently warned countries that support or host fugitive FETÖ members of the danger of doing so, as "FETÖ is a bloody terror group that hides its dark face under the guise of deception."
Over the years, the international community has come to gradually understand that FETÖ is not a social movement but a dark, insidious terrorist group with political and economic aims.
After the coup attempt, FETÖ was declared a terrorist organization by various countries and international organizations. In October 2016, at its 43rd Council of Foreign Ministers' session, the Organization of Islamic Conference declared it a terror organization.
Additionally, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) also declared FETÖ a terror organization as did the Supreme Court of Pakistan in a December 2018 ruling.
As a result of Turkey's efforts at last month's NATO leaders' summit in Madrid, Spain, FETÖ was named a terror group in the records of the alliance for the first time, according to the Turkish president.
Representatives from NATO's 30 member states signed accession protocols for Finland and Sweden, after formally inviting them to the military alliance at the historic summit in Madrid last week.
The two countries shunned neutrality and applied to join NATO in May, a decision spurred on by Russia's war on Ukraine. But Turkey, a longstanding member of the alliance, voiced objections to their membership bids, criticizing the countries for tolerating and even supporting terrorist groups.
Ahead of the summit, Ankara and the two Scandinavian countries signed a memorandum after four-way talks, including NATO, in Madrid.
The agreement allows the two Nordic countries to become NATO members under the condition they take steps to address Turkey's terrorism concerns and lift an arms embargo on Ankara.
Following the trilateral deal, NATO formally invited Sweden and Finland to join the 30-member military alliance.
Now, Turkey also expects its NATO ally United States to take concrete steps against the terror group.
Turkey hopes that its ally the United States will stop hosting the fugitive head of FETÖ, Parliament Speaker Mustafa Şentop reiterated Wednesday.
Regarding the extradition process of FETÖ fugitives, Şentop underlined that Turkey has so far tried all necessary channels for the extradition of all members of the terrorist group linked to the coup attempt.
"The correspondence and our insistence with the U.S. authorities, especially for the extradition of the FETÖ ringleader (Fetullah) Gülen, are known to everyone. With Turkey's stance toward the two countries (Finland and Sweden) seeking NATO membership, I hope that the new processes that started with the United States will bring a facilitating dimension to the extradition of the FETÖ ringleader. Turkey announced the danger of this organization to the whole world and told everyone in the administration of the countries the damage it would one day inflict on all the countries that feed this organization. I hope the United States will stop hosting the ringleader of this organization that bloodied Turkey," Şentop said.
"As Turkey, we will continue our fight against this treacherous terrorist organization, which threatens the lives of our citizens, our democracy, our independence, and our future, and we will continue our fight until we destroy this structure all over the world," he added.
FETÖ and its U.S.-based leader, Fetullah Gülen, orchestrated the defeated coup of July 15, 2016, in which 251 people were killed and 2,734 wounded.
FETÖ was also behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police and judiciary.
An unknown number of Gülenists, mostly high-ranking figures, fled Turkey when the coup attempt was thwarted. A large number of Gülenists had already left the country prior to the coup attempt after Turkish prosecutors launched investigations into other crimes of the terrorist group. Despite Turkey's extradition requests and bilateral legal agreements, many FETÖ members still freely enjoy their lives in different countries around the world. In the aftermath of the July 15, 2016 coup attempt, Turkey has sped up extradition processes for members of FETÖ abroad.
The U.S., where FETÖ's fugitive head Gülen resides, is the target of most extradition requests. Turkey has sent several extradition requests for Gülen to Washington so far, but unfortunately, has seen little progress in his extradition. Gülen, who arrived in the U.S. in 1999, currently lives in a luxurious retreat in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania, in self-imposed exile. He never leaves the well-guarded compound but often gives interviews to foreign media. Ankara formally requested Gülen's extradition on July 19, 2016, and has been pressing the U.S. ever since, sending hundreds of folders full of evidence implicating Gülen and FETÖ in the coup attempt. The issue has been raised in bilateral meetings between Turkish and American officials in phone calls, letters and other exchanges.
Turkey on Friday is commemorating the people killed during the July 15, 2016 defeated coup attempt. Since its designation in October 2016, every year the nation marks July 15 as Democracy and National Unity Day, with events held nationwide to commemorate those who lost their lives beating back the putschists and to remember the bravery of the nation.
Standing against the threat, the Turkish people courageously showed the world that they would not tolerate any attempt to thwart their will as expressed through their democratically elected government.
Meanwhile, the Communications Directorate is set to hold commemoration events across the country and abroad, under the theme "For the Love of Turkey," to highlight the heroic resistance of those who sacrificed their lives during the defeated coup of the FETÖ terror group six years ago.
On the sixth anniversary of the July 15, 2016 coup attempt, comprehensive commemoration events that will be organized under the coordination of the directorate will emphasize the love for the country and nation as well as the strong will and determination of the Turkish people, which paved the way for the July 15 victory.
The events abroad will celebrate the strength of the democracy that prevails after the defeated coup and highlight the danger posed by FETÖ terrorists to the world.
In Turkey, Erdoğan will attend a series of events in Ankara at the Presidential Complex and will leave for Istanbul where he will address the people at Saraçhane Square on Friday evening.
Other events in major cities such as Ankara, Istanbul, İzmir and Gaziantep will also take place, according to a statement by the directorate.
Presidential Communications Director Fahrettin Altun stated that President Erdoğan, together with his nation, displayed great heroism against the invasion attempt on July 15, 2016.
Stressing that a great betrayal was eliminated thanks to the struggle unprecedented in history, Altun emphasized that July 15 was a victory for the national will and democracy, and that the nation took to the squares that night and wrote a heroic epic against traitors and cowards.
Stating that they organized commemoration programs and events as the Presidency, both at home and abroad, in order to keep alive this spirit of struggle that was revealed on the night of July 15, Altun noted that they continue to show the real face of the bloody FETÖ to the whole world.
"As our President has always stated, we will not forget July 15, we will not let it be forgotten. We will always remember the betrayals of FETÖ. We will always keep alive the epic struggle of our nation, the memory of our martyrs and the heroism of our veterans," he said.
This year has the highest number of projects or events taking place when compared to previous years, with approximately 9,000 project entries made by institutions and organizations in the July 15 Project Tracking System, which was established within the scope of the coordination task of the Directorate of Communications.
While the number of projects was 2,961 in 2020 and 3,876 in 2021, the number of programs to be realized this year exceeded the total of the previous two years.
This number is an indication that the spirit of July 15 has been kept alive and that Turkey's citizens are still on the watch for democracy.