May 3, 2015

Davutoğlu, ex-president Gül spar over visit to Gülen

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu continued on Sunday to insist on the truth of his claim that he visited Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen in 2013 with the knowledge of then-President Abdullah Gül, despite Gül's denial that he knew.

In remarks to journalists during a visit to Germany, Davutoğlu said at the time of the incident, he and Gül were in New York for a United Nations General Assembly and that he left for Pennsylvania that weekend.

“I informed him [Gül] before and after the visit,” Davutoğlu was quoted by CNN Türk as saying on Sunday. “With all due respect for Mr. Gül, my conscience is very clear. I didn't make any appointment without the government's knowledge,” Davutoğlu added.

Former President Gül has previously refuted Davutoğlu's claims suggesting that Davutoğlu met with Gülen with his knowledge.

“There is something wrong in the part concerning me. I learned about it [the visit] afterwards,” Gül asserted on Friday.

The Zaman daily's Editor-in-Chief Ekrem Dumanlı stated in a live interview on April 28 that Davutoğlu paid a visit to Gülen in 2013, saying that he does not understand why Davutoğlu now makes it sound as if visiting Gülen is a crime. After Dumanlı's remarks, Davutoğlu admitted that he paid a visit, saying that he went to warn Gülen to “remain on a legitimate basis” and asked him to return to Turkey.

“I have intelligence reports in my hand. I invited him [Gülen] to return but he refused, saying that it was not time yet. I now understand that he was waiting until December to come back. He was going to return like [Iran's Ruhollah] Khomeini,” Davutoğlu told the press in a clear reference to the graft scandal that erupted on Dec. 17 and 25, 2013 which implicated then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, some of his close associates and businesspeople affiliated with the government.

Lawyers representing Gülen on Friday dismissed remarks made by Davutoğlu that Gülen rejected an invitation from Davutoğlu to return to Turkey on the grounds that “it was not time yet.”

“Unfortunately, the only correct statement by Davutoğlu is that he previously visited Gülen. During the visit, Davutoğlu and Mr. Gülen never had a conversation about domestic policy and the only matter of discussion between them was the events in Syria,” said the lawyers, who posted tweets on Gülen's official Twitter account on May 1.

Published on Sunday's Zaman, 03 May 2015, Sunday