November 14, 2014

G-20 summit blockade shameful for Turkey, businessman says

A blockade imposed on certain businessmen from attending the G-20 summit, to be attended by Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu in Brisbane, Australia, is shameful for Turkey, Murat Çoşkun, who was among the businessmen in question, has said.

“I think the primary reason why we were taken off the list was due to our relationship with the Hizmet movement. I am proud to be affiliated with the movement. Some of those invited [to the G-20 summit] have business potential that is mid-range and below but were invited in spite of this. However the intention had nothing to do with business potential, it was about opening the doors to those near [to the government] and excluding those who are not,” Çoşkun, who runs an Australian kebab chain and is the president of the Active Young Merchant's Association (AYMA), told Today's Zaman on Friday

The blockade imposed on the businessmen also included the media, with security officials accompanying Davutoğlu forcing Zaman and Cihan news agency correspondents out of a conference on Friday. Davutoğlu met Turkish businessmen in Griffith University in Australia on Friday and Zaman and Cihan journalists were barred from following the event which was open to the media.

Other media members at the conference spoke out against the officials. Milliyet editor-in-chief told Today's Zaman the blockade is “completely wrong and saddening.”

According to undisclosed sources, Australian businessmen of Turkish descent who are affiliated with the faith-based Hizmet movement were recently removed from the guest list of the upcoming G-20 summit. Turkey's ambassador to Australia, Reha Keskintepe, obtained a list of the G-20 attendees from Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra and sent it to Ankara, according to the sources. A number of Hizmet-affiliated businessmen were later removed from the guest list.

The G-20 summit is scheduled to take place in Brisbane on Nov. 15-16. Turkey will assume leadership of the international economic forum on Dec. 1. The move mirrors recent measures taken by the government to exclude Hizmet-affiliated media outlets from attending official events. The Hizmet-affiliated Zaman and Today's Zaman dailies as well as the Cihan news agency have been barred from such events, in addition to various other media outlets known for their critical stance against the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party). The Hizmet movement is inspired by Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen.

The government has executed a variety of schemes with the intention of destroying the Hizmet movement after a corruption scandal targeting cabinet ministers that went public on Dec. 17 was said to have been orchestrated by Hizmet members within the judiciary and police force. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has publicly declared time and time again that he intends to finish off the movement. His government has waged a series of attacks on the Islamic lender Bank Asya, which is affiliated with the movement, and cancelled the license of its charity Kimse Yok Mu, which conducts charitable activities all over the world.

Published on Today's Zaman, 14 November 2014, Friday