UPDATE 2 – Countering FETO tops agenda of Turkish, Kyrgyz leaders

UPDATES WITH REMARKS BY KYRGYZ PRESIDENT

By Ilkay Guder and Nezir Aliyev

BISHKEK – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday said the fight against the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) was the main issue discussed during the meeting with his Kyrgyz counterpart.

Speaking ahead of a fourth High Level Strategic Cooperation Council meeting with Sooronbay Jeenbekov in the Kyrgyz capital Bishkek, Erdogan said, "We don't want Kyrgyzstan to experience the troubles we had on July 15 [2016] coup attempt."

"It would be beneficial for both sides to concentrate on the positive agenda by removing the FETO issue from our agenda," Erdogan said.

FETO and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup of July 15, 2016, which left 251 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured.

Ankara also accuses FETO of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police, and judiciary.

Jeenbekov said the incidents of July 15, 2016 were "a test" not only for Turkish people but also for the Kyrgyz people.

"You know Kyrgyzstan was among the countries supporting Turkey [over the coup attempt]. The only power of the government is the people. It is not acceptable to overthrow a democratically elected government using military power," Jeenbekov said, adding that his country would always be open for cooperation on FETO issues.

The Kyrgyz president said they changed FETO-linked schools were now under the jurisdiction of the country's National Education Ministry.

Erdogan said Turkey would continue to provide economic, educational, cultural and developmental support to Kyrgyzstan.

“Turkey and Kyrgyzstan are two brother countries. Turkey has always taken side with Kyrgyzstan since its independence and has always supported the development of Kyrgyzstan," Erdogan said.

"We are committed to bringing our annual trade volume target to the level of $1 billion as soon as possible," Erdogan added.

The Turkish president recalled that the creation of the High-Level Strategic Cooperation Council in 2011 had boosted relations between the two countries to a strategic partnership level.

"Nevertheless, after a treacherous coup attempt on July 15, we had a partial pause in our partnership, which we did not desire," Erdogan said and underlined that Turkey was ready to fulfill its responsibilities to bring relationships back to its past level.

Turkey will support Kyrgyzstan in the non-permanent membership election at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), Erdogan said, adding: "We also welcome the establishment of a Kyrgyz-Turk friendship group in the Kyrgyz parliament."

Erdogan said a "Kyrgyz Friendship Group" would be created as soon as possible, adding that Turkey would also promote frequent meetings between Turkish and Kyrgyz lawmakers.

Speaking later at a news conference with his Kyrgyz counterpart following the High Level Strategic Cooperation Council meeting, Erdogan said, “I am also pleased to attend an opening ceremony of the World Nomad Games 2018 on Sunday.

“We are planning to host the fourth World Nomad Games to be held in 2020, which makes a great contribution to our common cultural and historical values,” Erdogan said.

The first World Nomad Games were held in 2014 and featured 350 participants from 18 countries. Events included traditional sports like wrestling, hunting with eagles and equestrian events.

Jeenbekov highlighted the importance of the friendship and deep-rooted Kyrgyz-Turkish ties.

“We never forget that Turkey was the first country recognizing the independence of Kyrgyzstan.

“You are first the president I have received," Jeenbekov said, referring to the Turkish president.

"Your visit will certainly boost Kyrgyz-Turkish ties. A strategic partnership between Kyrgyzstan and Turkey meets the interests of the two countries," Jeenbekov said.

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