Burak Akçapar, Ambassador of Turkey to India, is a scholar and writer. Before taking charge of the Turkish Embassy in New Delhi, he had served as the Deputy Director General for South Asia at the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affair and the Deputy Head of Mission of the Turkish Embassy in Washington, D.C. Akçapar is a recipient of NATO Secretary General's Award for Excellence in 2002.
In an exclusive interview with V.M Ibraheem, Executive Editor of Madhyamam Daily, Burak Akçapar talks about the recent military coup attempt in Turkey, its consequences, Gulen movements and India’s stand.
Ques: As a Turkish citizen, how do you see this historic moment of a civilian resistance against an army coup? Is it a clear message and relief to the people of other countries who have been desperately fighting against the autocratic regimes?
Amb. Akçapar: Firstly, allow me to extend my warm greetings to the readers of MADHYAMAM and my brothers and sisters in Kerala. Kerala is the gem of India bestowed with extraordinary natural beauty and cultural wealth.
It is truly a historic moment for the people and democracy of Turkey. It is historic also for the world. The Turkish nation has thwarted the plot against the democratically-elected Turkish President and Government. They displayed a historic unity and solidarity as they took to the streets and remained defiant against a clique within the armed forces who conspired against the constitutional order of Turkey.
Ques: What do you think about the prospect of restoring peace in Turkey? Is there any chance of yet another insurgency?
Amb. Akçapar: Sense of normalcy is returning although people remain on vigil as they celebrate the preservation of democratic order in the country. The President and government are on duty and in full charge. The full spectrum of the political scene has united against the coup attempt. In fact, throughout the ordeal, all the political parties and Members of the Turkish Grand National Assembly stood firmly by democracy, democratic politics, democratic institutions and the Constitution. A Joint Declaration in defense of democracy was issued during the extraordinary meeting of the General Assembly on the 16th of July. This is the first declaration that united all the political parties represented in the Turkish parliament. Our President, Prime Minister, Government, Members of the Turkish Grand National Assembly and the Turkish people all together defeated this coup attempt and will continue to stand by democracy and the rule of law.
Ques: In your view, who is to be blamed for the incident? Do you think Fethullah Gulen movement was behind it?
Amb. Akçapar: As it has been announced by the government this coup attempt was staged in no uncertain terms by the Fethullah Gülen Terrorist Organization (FETÖ). Our Government has been constantly exposing the real motives of this terrorist group and its leader, Fethullah Gülen, to all allies and partners. The foiled coup is the latest criminal act revealing the danger posed by FETÖ.
Ques: Gulen has repeatedly rejected any responsibility for the Turkey coup attempt. Dou you think the foiled coup was perpetrated by Gulenists themselves? Or, did they get any external help or support?
Amb. Akçapar: The investigation underway would reveal the full extent of the conspiracy but my government has already announced the main culprit.
Ques: Will the death penalty be restored in Turkey to punish the culprits behind the coup bid?
Amb. Akçapar: The terrorists will be punished in accordance with the full extent of the law. Reinstitution of the death penalty depends on the Turkish parliament.
Ques: What will be the impact of this coup attempt on Turkish economy? Will it affect your country’s relief initiatives for Palestine and the refugees?
Amb. Akçapar: Turkish economy has a strong macroeconomic base, and all necessary precautions are being taken by the economic authorities. Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey has made this very clear in his statement today and the exchanges have opened this morning without major volatility.
Ques: How do you see India’s stand on the present political scenario in Turkey?
Amb. Akçapar: India’s attitude was quick and very positive, befitting a friendly and democratic country. Minister Swaraj and the MEA has underlined India’s commitment to democracy and the mandate of the ballot, and stood against the coup plot against the democratically elected Turkish government. I’m also touched by the outpouring of support to Turkey during this difficult chapter.
Ques: Will you take any action against the elements of Gulenist movements in India?
Amb. Akçapar: They should have no place in a friendly and democratic country like India. We expect Indian government to take necessary actions against them.
Ques: Do you think Turkey is now able to prevent any such military interventions in the future?
Amb. Akçapar: July 15th will be marked as the day of democracy in Turkey. We believe that Turkish democracy has been strengthened as a result of this reprehensible crime against the Turkish constitutional order. Democracy means the rule of the people. Turkish people have shown beyond any doubt that they are the guardians of their democracy.