How NATO Parliamentarians Taught a Lesson to a Bloody Coup Supporter
The Joint Visit of NATO Parliamentary Assembly (NATO PA) Sub-Committee on Democratic Governance and Sub-Committee on Transatlantic Relations was scheduled in Philadelphia and Carlisle, United States on 18-22 September 2017. Before the visit, when we received the draft programme, we noticed that notoriously anti-Turkey Daniel Pipes, President of Middle East Forum, and Emre Çelik, member of Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ) were among the panelists.
To understand the gravity of the situation for Turkey, one should know the events transpired on July 15th, 2016 in Turkey. On July 15, Turkey and the Turkish nation went through a dramatic chain of events that caught the millions in Turkey beyond unaware. Rogue army officers who belonged to FETÖ staged a bloody coup, which cost the lives of more than 250 people and injured 2193.
The coup plotters attempted to assassinate the President, suspend the Constitution, impose martial law and enforce a nationwide curfew. They heavily assaulted many government buildings, including the Parliament, Presidential Palace, headquarters of the intelligence service, and the headquarters of special forces.
This has been a very traumatic event for the Turkish people. While the leader of the terrorist organization was quick to deny responsibility, revealed evidence showed that without a doubt this attempted coup was staged by the FETÖ. Many soldiers have already confessed to be members of this terrorist organization, also ties between many senior members of FETÖ and the coup plotters have been discovered through investigations and testimonies of culprits.
I have already mentioned that there is no doubt about FETÖ’s responsibility in the coup attempt. Another important fact I want to draw attention to is that Emre Çelik represents an organization called the Rumi Forum, an organization founded in 1999, and lists Fethullah Gulen, the leader of the FETÖ, as its honorary chairman.
On the other hand, Daniel Pipes has openly shown his support to the coup attempt through social media channels, and written articles on why he wanted the coup attempt to succeed, undermining Turkish democracy and the democratic victory Turkish people have achieved.
When I realized this problem in the programme, I immediately penned a letter to our President at the NATO PA, Mr. Paolo ALLI, stating our concerns and requesting a revision in the draft programme. Because having a person that is a member of an organization that is responsible for a coup attempt, bombing of a parliament and efforts to abolish democracy at a parliamentary meeting seemed absurd. After a short while, I was informed that the panels at the Middle East Forum would still be held but Daniel Pipes had accepted exclusion of Emre Çelik and guaranteed NATO PA that this member of FETÖ would not attend the meetings.
On September 19th, unfortunately, Daniel Pipes and the Middle East Forum did not honor their promises. They went against their agreement with the NATO PA, and turned the NATO PA visit a scene to an ill-suited attempt of a public show down. In the last section of the panels hosted by the Middle East Forum, Daniel Pipes, provocatively stating his desire to teach NATO PA a lesson, invited Emre Çelik to the stage to make a speech to NATO PA members. We, the members of the Turkish Delegation stated that this was totally unacceptable and I requested a point of order to make a statement. Head of the NATO PA Delegation Lord JOPLING showed a great example of leadership and did not let Daniel Pipes’ provocation efforts to come to fruition. He insisted on taking the stage as planned before and after making his speech, he gave the floor to me. Daniel Pipes, using brute force and hitting to the desk on the stage, unlawfully prevented me to make my statement. (A clear example of the flawed understanding of freedom of speech Daniel Pipes and the Middle East Forum have) Under these circumstances, Lord Jopling could not continue this nonsense, and closed the NATO PA meeting. Hence, the FETÖ member could not take the stage while NATO PA members were present.
Unfortunately, the provocation efforts did not end there, after the panels, Daniel Pipes and his colleagues at the Middle East Forum started to disseminate false information deliberately to deceive public opinion. They used social media channels, blogs, and internet news portals to spread their misrepresentation of the meeting. For example, they claimed that the request for removing Emre Çelik came from President of Republic of Turkey and the government, though my delegation including the opposition party member Mr. Metin Lütfi Baydar and I, as legitimate representatives of Turkish Nation, were the only ones responsible for this request. They did not stop there, to convince public opinion that Turkey does not belong to NATO; they took little pieces of information out of their context and gathered them together to form a very bad misrepresentation of Turkey. For example, Turkey had to close its airspace because of the fighter jets operated by rogue elements in Turkish Army that were trying to overthrow the government on July 15, 2016; but they chose not to mention this, and claimed that Turkey has closed its airspace for US airplanes fighting DAESH.
I do not believe that it would be productive to go over every groundless and ridiculous claim they make. In a nutshell, Turkey is conducting its struggle against the FETÖ, which poses a threat to our state and our nation at an unprecedented scale, as well as the PKK, DEASH and other terrorist organizations. Turkey, fully admiring NATO PA’s principles, is the only truly democratic country in its region. From the NATO PA, the castle of democratic values, where we are among one of the first members, our basic expectation is solidarity. And we witnessed this solidarity in this event. Members of NATO PA has given a lesson to Mr. Pipes and his colleagues; you cannot pretend defending rule of law, democracy and human rights while you preach why a bloody coup attempt should have been successful. Turkey, even after a bloody coup attempt, has managed this period with measures taken within the scope of the principle of rule of law, in accordance with our national legislation and international obligations within full transparency.

Ahmet Berat Çonkar
Head of Turkish Delegation to NATO PA
Deputy of İstanbul from Ak Party