Former British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said on Saturday that "without any question" the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) was involved in the coup attempt, of whose nature he said, there was "very little understanding even in the United Kingdom."
Straw welcomed the U.K. parliamentary committee report, released by the Foreign Affairs Committee earlier on Saturday, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Britain's foreign ministry), on UK-Turkey relations, which said members of FETÖ were involved in the July 15 coup attempt in Turkey.
"I am very pleased that the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Commons has concluded that the Gülenist Terror Group was involved in the coup," Straw told Anadolu Agency. He went on to say that the coup bid was reported in the U.K. as if few were killed as a result of a few soldiers revolting. "This is simply not true. It could have brought down and came close to bringing down a democratically elected government in a European country." Describing the attempt as "outrageous," Straw said that FETÖ had two faces and many people saw their "nice face," adding their schools and educational institutions were what attracted people to join the organization. He said in their "very dark face," they undermined the foundations of the democracy.
The interview was held on the sidelines of the sixth Turkish-British Tatlidil Forum in the southern Turkish province of Antalya where Straw served as the forum's co-chairman. The Tatlidil Forum, established in 2011, brings together leading figures from the fields of academia, business, the media and politics to strengthen relations between Turkey and the U.K.
FETÖ, led by U.S.-based Fetullah Gülen, sought to topple the Turkish government and seize power on July 15. The coup attempt was prevented by loyal military troops, as well as police units and millions of Turkish citizens. Some 249 people, mainly civilians, were killed by putschist soldiers, while more than 2,200 people were injured. In its report, however, the Foreign Affairs Committee highlighted the importance of Turkey as an international partner for the U.K. However, it noted, "The Department knows too little about the Gülenists, who the Turkish government exclusively blames, and their role in the coup attempt."
Turkey's EU Minister Ömer Çelik criticized the report for failing to include the Turkish view regarding the topics covered in the paper. Speaking at the sixth Tatlıdil Forum on Saturday, Çelik said that reports prepared by such committees either do not bother to ask for the Turkish view or asked about it but disregarded it while writing it, making it biased. "I asked them frankly what proof they expect," Çelik said, noting that Turkey is ready to discuss the evidence, while adding that numerous coup plotters have confessed to being members of FETÖ and carrying out the coup based on the orders of FETÖ leader Gülen. Çelik said that such reports should be prepared in consultation with politicians in Turkey, including the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party), main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) and others.
Meanwhile, the Minister of State for Europe and the Americas at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the United Kingdom, Sir Alan Duncan, said that there is a common understanding that FETÖ was behind the July 15 coup attempt, emphasizing his comments on FETÖ were repeatedly quoted in the report.
"If you read the report, you will see my words saying, ‘Our understanding is in this direction [FETÖ being behind the coup].' However, the committee also includes the opposition elements, not just the government's, thus the report also includes those. However, when the report is read in detail, you will see that it says: ‘It is the U.K.'s right to support Turkey against the coup attempt. We have to condemn this act. Yes, this is an attempt by a parallel structure to destroy democracy, and this is unacceptable,'" Duncan said. He added that the fact that the report says, "There is a lack of hard evidence," does not mean that the U.K. does not condemn the act. Duncan also said that the U.K. was among the first to condemn the coup attempt and first to visit Ankara, while some other countries undervalued the trauma caused by the coup attempt.
According to the report published early Saturday, when asked about whether or not the Gülenists were responsible for the coup attempt, he said, "I think the answer has to be, in large part, in terms of significant involvement, yes. "It is a very complicated phenomenon in Turkish government and society; it will probably take years to analyze this and to get to the bottom of it," Duncan was quoted as saying in the report when pressed about the extent of FETÖ involvement in the coup attempt. Duncan also referred to the "clear and systematic infiltration of the entire apparatus of government by a group of people who, as a state within the state, try to overturn the state," in clear reference to FETÖ's parallel state structure.