NRT correspondent Huner Anwer interviews Fethullah Gulen in his Pennsylvania residence ask the crucial question on alliance between the Gulen Movement and Erdogan. Gulen says, briefly, there has never been sincere alliance between them but the movement supported Erdogan as long as Erdogan stayed in line with democratic values and honored rule of law.
Below is transcript of the interview
Huner Anwer: You and Mr. Erdogan were friends, some sort of allies until 2013. Your movement seems more like an education movement. What brings you politics and what did happen between you and Erdogan that made you end friendship now?
Fethullah Gulen: There has never been an alliance, a sincere alliance, in the sense of a political alliance between us. During the formation efforts of their party, Mr. Erdogan visited me and I spoke with him at that time once. And I also met him when he was Istanbul’s mayor when we organized a charity soccer game for the benefit of Bosnian war victims. So I met him only two or three times throughout this period. But despite the absence of an actual alliance, people outside always saw this as an alliance.
The true nature of this relationship is as such that they have promised to uphold the rule of law, justice. They promised to respect the diversity of opinions. They promised to respect religious freedom. They promised to respect different opinions and worldviews. And our friends along with the majority of Turkish people supported them based on these promises, such as Mr. Suleyman Demirel who was prime minister and then president of Turkey, Mr. Turgut Ozal who was also Prime Minister and the President of Turkey, and Mr. Bulent Ecevit who was the Prime Minister. They all received support for similar promises for democracy, and the rule of law, and freedom. So Turkish people, based on the promises of these political leaders, supported them at different times.
But I should note that we have not received this kind of treatment from any of those previous leaders. We have not received this form of harassment and persecution neither from Mr. Suleyman Demirel nor Mr. Turgut Ozal nor Mr. Bulent Ecevit. While this process was going on, I was in the United States. And whenever I saw a democratic reform, I supported it.
In 2010, there was a proposal for the constitutional amendment and I supported it because it was democratizing the judiciary. And I supported it, but we have never formed a party. We have never joined a party. We have not become political. We have simply preserved our line of thought, our core values, which are universal human values: peace in the world, unity and harmony among human beings, and to fight against poverty. These are our core values and we have not strayed from them. If we wanted we could have taken a place in the party. We could have demanded parliamentary seats. We could have demanded seats in the Cabinet or a bureaucratic position of the government. But we have not done any of this. They have designed the Parliament, they have designed the Cabinet, they have designed bureaucratic institutions as they wished. And all of the worlds is a witness to this.
So if you’re going to talk about the separation or the split, this is because they strayed from their promises. We have not changed our position, our core values, but they made a U-turn. That’s why the split occurred. And now this treatment of our friends in Turkey and the polarization of the Turkish society is so bad that even the honorable Khizer and Prophet Moses, even if they were to work together, they could not improve and solve the situation in two or three years.