June 8, 2022 – 1:57 PM
PanARMENIAN.Net – California Courier publisher Harut Sassounian has written a new article about Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s plans to expand his political reach in France and across Europe.
The article reads as follows:
I wrote last week about Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s plans to garner the votes of Turkish Americans for re-election next year by opening an office in Washington for his ruling party (AKP) and hiring his cousin, Dr. Halil Mutlu, as a registered lobbyist. Already, Erdogan has scored his first political success in the US with the victory of Turkish-American Dr. Mehmet Oz in the Pennsylvania Republican primary for the US Senate.
This week I would like to report Pres. Erdogan’s similar political efforts in France by planting Turkish moles in the French legislature. This has been Erdogan’s long-term goal since 2010, when he urged his compatriots in France during his visit to Paris to stand for election.
Naturally, no one can object to the Turks of France and the United States running for political office. However, when such political action is encouraged and supported by a foreign government, in this case Turkey, and its autocratic leader, serious concerns are raised that these Turkish politicians may become a tool in the hands of Erdogan to export his despotic policies beyond Turkish borders. and propagate anti-Armenian positions.
Respecting Erdogan’s marching orders, Ali Gedikoglu, founder of the Strasbourg-based Equality and Justice Party, “presented 50 candidates for the 2017 election [French] legislative elections,” Intelligence Online reported. “Gedikoglu is also known to be a long-time close associate of Turkish Foreign Minister and AKP founding member Mevlüt Çavusoglu.”
For the upcoming French legislative elections on June 12 and 19, 2022, the Turkish news site Medyaturk, in collaboration with the French version of the Turkish government agency Anadolu, has promoted three Turkish candidates: “Celil Yilmaz, dual Franco-Turkish citizen (for 5th district of Ain); Yalcin Ayvali (14th district of the Rhône); and Ramazan Calli (5th constituency of Saône-et-Loire)”, candidate of the Union of French Muslim Democrats. All three are “involved in the Strasbourg association Cojep (Council for Justice, Equality and Peace), whose name translates to Council for Justice, Equality and Peace”, according to Intelligence Online. Created in 1985, Cojep has an annual budget of 300,000 euros. He “defends the interests of Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s “Turkish Justice and Development Party” or AKP, to which his leadership is close”.
The candidate Celil Yilmaz is president of the association Cojep and former municipal councilor of Nantua (eastern France). Cojep director Gedikoglu is an active Armenian Genocide denier in the European Parliament where he is registered as a lobbyist with the Parliament’s Transparency Register. He is also described as “the driving force behind the AKP’s media presence and charity work in France”, according to Intelligence Online.
Given the widespread recognition of the Armenian Genocide throughout Europe, Turks who deny the Genocide become the laughing stock of Europeans, just like in the United States, after both houses of Congress and the Presidency. Biden acknowledged the genocide. Turkish denials of the Armenian Genocide amount to trying to prove that “the earth is flat”.
The candidate Yilmaz was “indicted in 2018 by the Paris prosecutor’s office for ‘incitement to hatred'”, according to Intelligence Online. “Yilmaz demonstrated his ability to rally people’s minds when, in a few minutes via social networks, he managed to rally around a hundred Turks to counter a pro-Kurdish demonstration in front of the Turkish consulate in Lyon in January 2018.”
Intelligence Online revealed that “Yilmaz also organized a meeting between Cojep staff and an official delegation from the Democratic Republic of Congo [DRC] who had traveled to meet with senior AKP officials at its headquarters in Turkey in August 2021. The DRC party included President Felix Tshisekedi’s brother, Roger Tshisekedi. Yilmaz also relies on the vice-president of Cojep for international relations, Sati Arik, who is a substitute on the board of directors of the women’s branch of the AKP “AKP Kadin Kollari”. Arik, originally from Strasbourg, is close to Turkish-German AKP MP Zafer Sirakaya. According to her biography on the party’s website, she writes reports on “The Muslims of France” for Sirakaya. The other two candidates, Ayvali and Calli, only show their association with Cojep via social media, although Calli is his local contact for Montceau-les-Mines in eastern France.
Besides the United States and France, Erdogan has set up a chain of pressure groups all over Europe. This is the “Union of European Turkish Democrats (Union of European Turkish Democrats) created by the AKP in Brussels [Belgium] in 2003 to support Turkey’s application for membership of the European Union. This entity has since become the parent company of several micro-parties close to the AKP, such as “Be.one” in Belgium, the Multicultural Right Party (Multicultural Recht Partij) in the Netherlands and the Alliance for Innovation and Justice (Bündnis für Innovation und Gerechtigkeit) in Germany,” according to Intelligence Online.
This vast Turkish lobbying effort should be confronted by everyone, not just Armenians. Even though Turkey is a bankrupt country, Pres. Erdogan, chose to use his country’s limited financial resources to arm his army and spread Turkish propaganda around the world.