By Emin Avundukluoglu
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has slammed Galatasaray Sports Club for saying it expelled two former players for non-payment of dues, instead of specifying the bigger charge of known ties with a terrorist group.
In an interview aired on local Haberturk news channel on Monday, Erdogan said the expulsion notice should have mentioned the links of ex-players Hakan Sukur and Arif Erdem with the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) as well as non-payment of club dues.
"I find Galatasaray administration’s decision which just linked them to non-payment of club dues as underwhelming," he said.
He said the club could have received information on Sukur and Erdem from the trial court where the duo face terror charges.
He told the football club to fill the gaps in the reason given for their expulsion.
Galatasaray’s management voted on Sunday in an extraordinary meeting to cancel the memberships of Sukur and Erdem.
On Saturday, the club's board in its annual meeting had expelled several members due to their alleged or established links with FETO, including former Istanbul Governor Huseyin Avni Mutlu and former judiciary member Zekeriya Oz. However, Sukur and Erdem were allowed to remain part of the club's membership.
On Saturday, Sports and Youth Minister Akif Cagatay Kilic had also voiced his disapproval of the decision, saying: "The Galatasaray board needs to correct the issue immediately.
"Traitors to our country and our state have no business in our established sports clubs.”
Sukur and Erdem were in the celebrated football team that won the UEFA Cup in 2000.
They are known supporters of FETO leader Fetullah Gulen, who is accused of masterminding last year’s defeated coup.
'Germany enables PKK meetings'
The president also sharply criticized Germany for enabling meetings of the terrorist PKK organization.
"They are sheltering thousands of terrorists in their country, and they are providing financial resources to them; every kind of demonstration [by the terror group] is being held there.
"I will go a step further, the terrorist organization's members are sitting inside the police vehicles and they are hanging posters of the head of terror [PKK group Abdullah Ocalan] on the vehicle," Erdogan said, adding they had documents to prove such incidents.
The PKK is listed as a terror group also by the EU and the U.S.
Erdogan also slammed remarks made by the head of the German Federal Intelligence Service (BND) over FETO’s role in the foiled coup.
Erdogan said Turkey had evidence proving FETO was behind the July 15 coup plot. "We are primarily suspicious of those who do not fully consider the July 15 coup," he said.
In an interview with the Der Spiegel weekly published Saturday, BND chief Bruno Kahl said: "Turkey has tried on different levels to convince us of [FETO's role in the coup] that, but they have not succeeded."
Led by U.S.-based Fetullah Gulen, FETO is accused of orchestrating the July 15 coup plot -- which left 249 people martyred and 2,193 injured -- as well as being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police, and the judiciary.
Turkey has submitted evidence of the FETO coup plot to governments worldwide, including Germany and the U.S., and urged them to eliminate FETO institutions in their own countries as well as extradite suspected members.
April 16 referendum
Erdogan also said the April 16 referendum on constitutional reforms would be the biggest ever.
"For making greater reforms, for not blocking [Turkey's future] and for taking easier going steps, April 16 would be Turkey's biggest native and national reforms," he said.
He said the constitution would get strengthened with the new proposed laws.
Next month, Turkish voters will be asked to vote Yes or No to the 18-article constitutional reform bill. The Yes campaign is backed by the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party and the opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.