Ankara, September 1, 2016/Independent Balkan News Agency
The Aydın Doğan Foundation hosted a European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) delegation led by former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt in a special reception that was joined by Turkish deputy prime ministers Numan Kurtulmuş, Veysi Kaynak and Mehmet Şimşek, diplomats, civil servants and journalists in Ankara on Aug. 31.
Delivering a speech during the reception, the foundation’s chairwoman, Vuslat Doğan Sabancı, talked about the July 15 failed coup attempt in Turkey and said the criticisms heard from their Western counterparts that “we are not embracing our democracy enough, as we had not shed blood, sweat and tears for it” were all buried by the Turkish people on the night of July 15. Bildt also said both sides would make an effort to turn the sad events of the night of July 15 into an opportunity to strengthen Turkey’s democracy.
Arriving in Ankara for a work visit, the delegation headed by Bildt, who is known as a “friend of Turks,” attended the reception hosted by Doğan Sabancı at the Sheraton Hotel in Ankara following its meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan at the presidential palace.
“I attach great importance to this visit, because Turkey is passing through difficult times and in these difficult time we have understood very well that our Western friends who are open to listening to us and who understand our problems are very important,” said Doğan Sabancı, adding that Turkey witnessed one of the bloodiest coup attempts seen in modern world history on the night of July 15.
“The Turkish people, with the president, the prime minister, all of the opposition parties and media outlets, have united and with the brave and determined stance of our police officers and soldiers have defeated this coup attempt. What happened that night? That night the Fethullahist Terror Organization [FETÖ] that had organized within the Turkish Armed Forces [TSK] attempted to take action against our democracy. The parliament was bombed by planes that were bought by our taxes. The lives of our respectful president and respectful prime minister were targeted; raids were conducted on independent media [outlets],” said Doğan Sabancı.
“Before July 15, we were often criticized by our Western friends for not embracing our democracy enough, as we had not shed blood, sweat and tears for it. We buried these criticisms on the night of July 15. But unfortunately the voices that came from the West for support were weak. But among our Western friends, respectful Carl Bildt took a very decisive and strong stance. The Turkish nation will never forget this powerful stance you showed today. Now we know that the Turkish democracy’s and economy’s strength is directly related to its being connected to the West and Western democracy. Therefore, I also value he Foreign Relations Council’s visit very much,” said Doğan Sabancı.
Also delivering a speech during the event, Bildt said the aim of their visit was to strengthen the Turkey-EU bridge and develop mutual understanding on both sides.
Bildt also talked about the abortive coup attempt in Turkey, saying: “This has created a deep shock effect on all of us. Resisting to defend the constitution and the democracy was more important than anything. With the efforts of the Turkish people and especially the efforts of those killed, the coup was defeated. We should do all we can to make this be considered as an opportunity by Turkey to strengthen its democracy in the following years.”
Bildt also reiterated that all of their efforts and contacts were to make sure that Turkey had a brighter future.
In addition to Kurtulmuş, Kaynak and Şimşek, main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy chairwoman Selin Sayek Böke, Turkey Bars Union head Metin Feyzioğlu, Foreign Affairs Ministry Undersecretary Ambassador Feridun Sinirlioğlu, EU Affairs Ministry Undersecretary Ambassador Engin Soysal, United Kingdom Ambassador to Ankara Richard Moore, United States Ambassador to Ankara John Bass, Holland Ambassador to Ankara Van Rij, Greece Ambassador to Ankara Kyriakos Loukakis and UNDP Resident Representative in Turkey Kamal Malhotra, along with the Bulgarian, French and German charge d’affairs were all present during the event.