Kathimerini article: The vice consul, the Gulenists and their role in Thrace

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Kathimerini article: The vice consul, the Gulenists and their role in ThraceTurkey’s general consulate in Thrace will not be excluded from the purges unleashed by Ankara against the supporters of Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen, following the failed coup in the country last month

Turkey’s general consulate in Thrace will not be excluded from the purges unleashed by Ankara against the supporters of Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen, following the failed coup in the country last month, according to an article in the Greek daily “Kathimerini”, published on Sunday. 

The paper claims that two subconsuls in Thrace's general consulate have been targeted. A translation of the full article follows below:

"A weird silence prevailed at the Turkish Consulate between the minority in Thrace on the night of 15 July while the attempted coup in Turkey was in progress. Vice Consul Irfan Cetin who is essentially the strong man of the Consulate did not appear to be worried and turned out late in his office despite the rapid developments in his country. Neither Cetin nor any of his close associates expressed their support to president Erdogan but waited for the outcome of the Turkish generals' operation.

A few days later on 24 July, date of the death of the founder of the minority party Friendship Equality and Peace (FEP) party Ahmet Sadik, his supporters had organised a protest march in Komotini. The fact did not have raised interest of the Turkish consul in Thrace that closely monitors and mostly guides the activity of the minority entities that he funds. However, everything changed a few hours before the start of the march. The Consul General Ali Riza Akinzi was informed that the message of the specific mobilisation did not move within the limits of protest on the rights of the "Turkish minority in Thrace" but had also other dimensions with the offering of support to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan through the condemn of the failed coup in Turkey. Immediately, the Turkish Consul was informed on the intention of a part of the minority and rushed to receive himself the deputies of the governing Turkish party AKP that had arrived in the city of Komotini to attend the event and led them to the famous restaurant "Stavros" where they had dinner until the march was over and only then he took them to Sadik's grave. 

Drawing up lists

What is hiding behind Turkish consul's sudden and special interest? Nothing but concern over what is taking place in Turkey after the failed coup, meaning the cleansing of any state structure from the supporters of Gulen. The dimensions of the cleansing operations reach the General Consulate of Turkey in Komotini where developments are expected. The stance the consulate has attested in the period from the attempted coup until today is dictated by the order send to the diplomatic authorities of Turkey to Bulgaria, Kosovo, Albania, Montenegro and Bosnia-Herzegovina to proceed immediately with the drawing up of lists with Gulen supporters and their zones of responsibility either they have double nationality or are nationals of their country of residence.

Bearing in mind the situation in Turkey, the investigation to draw up lists with the Gulenists is taking place at a very tense and conflictual climate. The Turkish diplomats have not been excluded from the cleansing including the consul in Komotini where according to information both vice-consuls are on target. In the last three years one of them, Irfan Cetin, has essentially replaced the consul. 

Cetin arrived to Thrace in 2013 with clear orders from Ankara and 'inheriting' from his predecessors a ready network with tentacles spread in all the Balkan peninsula. It closely cooperates with the pseudomuftis of Xanthi and Komotini Ahmet Mete and Ibrahim Sheriff, with the head of FEP Mustafa Ali Cavus and the editors of the Turkish-language newspaper Millet, Bilal Bodur and Cengiz Omer. Every Friday the vice consul visited the mosques in the regions of Rodopi and Xanthi at the hour of prayer in order to promote his relations. In the night he continues his activities by showing his talent in music and particularly in saz. The regular clients of the taverna "Ta Maggalia" at the village of Mischos near Komotini, had often the opportunity to be entertained by the popular Turkish vice consul's performances. However, they were also witnesses of the vice consul's tendency to drink alcohol and at times he got drunk he hurled insults against Erdogan and AKP. Rumours also said that the vice consul was very attracted to beautiful women regardless of his relation with a lady of the minority.

 However, the vice consul was extremely cautious on the handling of his sources and very familiar with Thrace's business environment with result his mistakes and slips to be almost none. Until 29 October 2015 when a photo from a reception on the celebration of Turkey's national feast that was held at a hotel in Komotini raised questions to the minority. The reception list was drawn by the vice consul and in it were two high ranked members of Gulen's movement in Thrace, a lawyer who had worked for a period as TRT's correspondent in Thrace and now an Istanbul resident and the director of a private school in Xanthi. In the photo the vice consul and his wife appear to welcome them both at the entrance of the hotel. Additionally, the vice consul's wife has a close relationship with the lawyer's wife. 

A special relationship

The photo fuelled a series of debates in the minority circles and gradually information started spreading on the particular relation between the MIT (National Turkish Intelligence Organisation) and the Gulenists of Thrace. According to Gulen supporters, the vice consul in the beginning of his term appeared as a genuine Kemalist and supporter of the secularism state but later he changed and chose to cooperate with members of the Gulen community and not only. The same sources said that the general consul was aware of his selection and probably covered it provided that the consul general's wife frequently appears with the head (a Turkish national) of Gulen's women's movement in Thrace who also works in Komotoni pseudomufti. 

The talented vice consul has also chosen to closely cooperate with theologist-journalist of Millet newspaper Bilal Bodur also a member of Gulen's movement. His sister and his brother in law are responsible for Gulen's schools in Bucharest. Bodur's associate was aware of Cetin's relations with the Gulenists but chose to cover and support him. AKP deputy of Bursa Hakan Cavusoglu did the same. In the other hand the vice consul did not forget his religious duties but gradually become to get closer with the pseudomufti of Xanthi Ahmet Mete instead of the pseudomufti in Komotini. Mete is member of the Suleymanci order which has supported significantly officials of the Gulenist movement. For example it has financially supported the Gulenist Foreign Languages centres "Elite" in Komotini and Xanthi and has a number of imams-supporters of Gulen in his sphere of influence. The funds the pseudomufti supports his actions dictated by the vice consul are ordered by the Islamic Institutions IRCICA and by the Religious Affairs Directorate of Turkey. However, after the failed coup the cleansing have reached the specific Directorate and some sources say that Mete is losing his powerful backing in Ankara and is very worried over his future taking into consideration his relations with Gulen's community.

In FEP's core

Turmoil prevails and in FEP's leadership. Its president Ali Cavus appears to worry if his relation with the vice consul is seen as an opportunity to be accused as Gulenist. The common secret that Ali Cavus is influenced by former president of the former "Union of the Turkish Youth in Komotini" and today a prominent figure of FEP Ikbal Karasalih Osman that promotes the Gulen community via the internet, intensifies his concern. 

Another branch of the relations network that has developed the vice consul with the Gulenists refers to the relations he has developed, with pseudomufti Mete working as link, with some Muslim constructors from the Pomak villages. These constructors own shipyards in Germany and the Netherlands and offer seasonal jobs to compatriots from the minority. These constructors are members of Gulen community and alleged to illegal channel funds in Greece by financial actions in the name of the pseudomufti of Xanthi.

The choice to remain silent in two occasions and the minority circles' concern

Even after the failed coup when the Turkish government officially targeted the Gulen network as the instigator and organiser of the coup, the vice consul did not show any special zeal in briefing Ankara on the reaction of the Gulenists in the area of his responsibility. His close associates selected not to state ex ante their faith in Erdogan but waited to see what will happen before they express their devotion to the Turkish president. The same credentials had the opportunity to present twice in the next days the team of Ali Cavus, Ahmet Mete, Cegiz Omer and Ibrahim Sheriff.

The first opportunity was offered when the eight Turkish military officers sought refuge in Alexandroupolis requesting political asylum. The pseudomufti and the others called the minority community to hold a protest on the extradition of the officers. The turnout was slim however the presence of Gulenists was remarkable. The second opportunity was the march on July 24 where the minority was called on to demonstrate against the coup leaders.

The vice consul remained silent on both occasions.  Bearing in mind some of his colleagues have been recalled, members of AKAM in Athens have not yet returned from their vacations in Turkey and the cleansing operation continues and in the main pillars of Erdogan's policy, even inside AKP, nothing cant be taken for granted. Some believe that as the end of Cetin's term is very close, his repatriation on the horizon. Cetin and his group of associates in Thrace is vague because it can't be excluded the possibility everything to be set on the target of the operation for MIT 'cleansing' from the slightest Gulen supporters.

These indications raise concern in the minority circles for a series of other reasons, mostly to those with double nationality.

Some believe that the vice consul's associates in an effort to reverse Ankara's negative impressions and to renounce their relations with Gulen community will not hesitate to draw up lists with allegedly supporters of the Gulen movement based on their own interest and not on reality. However, in order this scenario to bear fruit, MIT should have totally missed the depth and extent of the cooperation this group had developed with the Gulenists. Has this mysterious vice consul taken care to protect his network so well by keeping so many secrets from his service?"

Source: kathimerini.gr

Read more here.

RELATED TOPICS: GreeceGreek tourism newsTourism in GreeceGreek islandsHotels in GreeceTravel to GreeceGreek destinations Greek travel marketGreek tourism statisticsGreek tourism report

 

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