President Tayyip Erdogan, who was in Russia on Tuesday for talks with Vladimir Putin on improving ties, has sharply criticized the United States and the EU for what he says is a lack of solidarity with Turkey over the July 15 coup and of caring more for the rights of the suspected plotters.
Erdogan blames Fethullah Gulen, a Muslim cleric who has lived in self-imposed exile in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania since 1999, and his followers for the attempted putsch, in which more than 240 people were killed and nearly 2,200 wounded.
Turkey has launched a series of mass purges of suspected Gulen supporters in its armed forces, other state institutions, universities, schools and the media since the abortive coup, prompting Western worries for the stability of a key NATO ally.
Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said anti-American feeling among Turks was on the rise and could only be calmed by the United States extraditing Gulen, who denies any involvement in the coup and has condemned it.
“There is a serious anti-American feeling in Turkey, and this is turning into hatred,” Bozdag said in an interview with state-run Anadolu Agency, broadcast live on Turkish television channels. “It is in the hands of the United States to stop this anti-American feeling leading to hatred.”
Responding to Turkey’s demand for Gulen’s extradition, US President Barack Obama has said Ankara must first provide clear evidence of wrongdoing. Last week a State Department spokesman said Washington was evaluating new documents it had received.
“Whether the U.S. extradites Gulen or not this will be a political decision,” Bozdag said. “If he is not extradited, Turkey will have been sacrificed for a terrorist.”