Vatican's Ankara envoy: Coup bid brought Turks together
The Vatican's ambassador to Ankara has praised the Turkish people for their fight against the attempted coup on July 15.

In an interview published on Thursday in the U.S.-based National Catholic Reporter, Archbishop Paul Fitzpatrick Russell talked about the defeated coup, the war in Syria and the refugee crisis, as well as Turkish-Vatican ties.

"In Turkey right now there is a lot of uncertainty," Russell, the Vatican's apostolic nuncio to Turkey and Turkmenistan, was quoted as saying. "But there's a hope that this event … as painful as it has been, that somehow it can bring people together."

"The entire people of Turkey are absolutely united to defend their country and their democracy," the envoy said. "There are many divisions but this event really brought people together, the whole population."

"It's something quite extraordinary," he went on to say. "The hope is that these values which unify the people of Turkey can be built upon for greater good in the future."

The Vatican envoy also shared his thoughts on being in Turkey's capital Ankara on the night of the coup, said the July 15 coup attempt "was very traumatic for the people of Turkey".

"We heard the bombings, the explosions. It was a night of fear; I'd say even terror, and a night of blood."

Government's coup response

Russell said that while Turkey's response to the coup attempt may seem "exaggerated," the authorities were "doing the best they can to try to find balance" in handling the situation.

"It seems there is a consensus that Fetullah Gulen is either directly responsible, as claimed by the government of Turkey, or his followers are either directly or indirectly responsible," said the envoy.

"The government of Turkey is absolutely convinced that he is directly responsible for the coup and there seem to be many indications of that."

Russell also said lots of followers of Gulen have been in Turkey's institutions for years, adding this is the reason "why such a large number of people have been suspended from work or detained or arrested”.

"It seems shocking to people from the outside, but from the point of view of Turkey I think the government is trying to do what is correct in this situation," he added.

Ankara accuses Fetullah Gulen, the leader of the Fetullah Terrorist Organization, of masterminding the failed coup which left 240 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured.

Gulen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania since 1999, is accused of leading a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police and judiciary, forming what is commonly known as the "parallel state”.

Last Modified: 2016-09-17 10:37:36
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