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September 28, 2021

Turkish Development Minister in Bucharest: Romania will act as it sees fit about Gulen schools

Romania will act as it sees fit about the schools on its soil that allegedly are part of a network set up by Fethullah Gulen, Turkey’s Development Minister Lutfi Elvan said Wednesday, adding that some countries have already taken concrete action to take over control over the schools.

Turkish authorities say Fethullah Gulen was behind the failed coup d’etat in Turkey.

“We have lived through that and we do not wish the same experience on you. A great share of the Turkish students that would attend these schools have switched to other education institutions, and I believe Romania will act as it sees fit about these schools. This organisation has schools in very many countries. The governments in Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Jordan and Somalia have taken the necessary steps to take over control over the above-mentioned institutions,” Lufti Elvan told a news conference in Bucharest as part of an official visit to Romania.

He added that the organisation controlled by Fethullah Gulen is very dangerous and uses children educated by the system to take over key functions in the countries where they operate.

“I dare advise you to be very careful about the schools of this terrorist organisation, which is very dangerous to us. As we face grave situations, it is possible that the same will happen to you sometime. I know it is very hard for you to understand this multifaceted organisation that is apparently peaceful and innocent, but it practices a version of Islam that is deviant. You may say that these schools are very meritorious, that they have many very good students. But I realise it is very hard for you to understand what happens with them. I know you are told they compete in Olympiads and win prizes and medals, because that is the story we’ve been hearing for years. Every time it was about one or two student they advertise; they choose from among brilliant children, perhaps children of high-ranking officials. They are signed up when they are 5-6 years old and educated in their schools all the way to university graduation, when they do not stop, because the second step is positioning themselves in key offices of the state where they live,” added the Turkish minister, according to Agerpres.

Early this month, Turkish ambassador in Bucharest Osman Koray Ertas said that a decision regarding the Romanian schools that are allegedly financed by Fethullah Gulen – a US-based cleric whom Turkish authorities blame for standing behind a failed coup in Turkey on July 15 – belongs to the Romanian officials, but Turkey raised the alarm on the issue.

Ertas gave a news conference to present the current situation in Turkey. Asked whether he maintains his opinion that some of the teachers in the charter school network that also operates in Romania have ties with Fethullah Gulen, the ambassador answered in the affirmative.

He also quoted a director of such a school from Constanta who – in response to an earlier interview of the ambassador, had said that they are looking up to Gulen because Romanians revere towering personalities such as poet Mihai Eminescu and playwright Ioan Luca Caragiale, and that in general this community has a positive opinion about Gulen.

Elaborating on his stance, the ambassador added that it is up to the Romanian officials to decide on the matter.

In a foreign country, said Ertas, I cannot point fingers and say they are doing this or that. The only thing I can say, he added, is that ten years ago the Turkish society overall and even the Turkish community of Romania considered Gulen’s sympathisers to be harmless, friendly and moderate Islamists, but now it’s obvious that their dark side is a serious danger to Turkey’s security.

Ertas added that the Turkish officials urge caution in Romania and also worldwide.

The Turkish diplomat said that official discussions are being held behind closed doors with Romanian authorities, and that it is up to the Romanian officials to make a sovereign decision. (…) We are simply sounding alarm not only in Romania, but all over the world, he said, adding that they will continue to warn national governments, some of which have already taken action


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