Turkey warns Kyrgyzstan over ‘Gulen coup’ risk

Turkey warned the ex-Soviet state of Kyrgyzstan over the risk of a coup by followers of the US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen

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Turkey on Thursday warned the ex-Soviet state of Kyrgyzstan over the risk of a coup by followers of the US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen, saying they had infiltrated every state institution in the country.

Ankara blames Gulen for the unsuccessful July 15 coup in Turkey that tried to unseat President Recep Tayyip Erdogan - charges the reclusive cleric vehemently denies.

Turkey has sought to cultivate close ties with Turkic-speaking Kyrgyzstan but Bishkek has found itself targeted by angry accusations from Turkish officials that it has not done enough to crack down on Gulen’s influence.

“In Kyrgyzstan, for example, there could be an attempt to launch a coup,” Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told CNN-Turk television.

“If there is a coup in Kyrgyzstan then it will be carried out by FETO,” he said, referring to what Ankara calls the Fethullah Terror Organisation. Gulen denies any such group exists.

“They (Gulenists) have infiltrated into all institutions. Kyrgyzstan is our brotherly nation. We need to immediately share our intelligence with them,” he added.

The most volatile nation in ex-Soviet Central Asia, Kyrgyzstan has seen two revolutions and several bouts of bloodletting in recent years.

With tensions rising between Ankara and Bishkek, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency published a report that a Gulen-linked foundation ran nine primary and secondary schools, 16 lycees, two international schools and one university in Kyrgyzstan.

Turkish officials accuse Gulen of building influence through a vast network of private education not only in Turkey but also Africa and Central Asia.

Such were the strength of earlier ties between Ankara and Bishkek that Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev even went to Turkey in August 2014 to join celebrations for Erdogan’s victory in presidential elections.

In a cold statement, Kyrgyzstan’s foreign ministry said it would take note of Turkey’s warnings on education but reminded Ankara it was an “independent, sovereign state”.

“We think at the very least that it is not correct when a foreign minister tells another state to take this or that action and moreover in the language of ultimatums and blackmail,” it said.

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