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A call to Europe, on the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, to find those who have disappeared

On the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, a protest was held in front of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg to ask for help to find abducted supporters of the Gulen Movement in the banishment process.

BOLD – After July 15, 6 Hizmet Movement followers were kidnapped by MIT and have been missing for months. While 4 of these people were handed over to the Police, Gökhan Türkmen, who has been missing for 204 days and Mustafa Yılmaz, who has been missing for 193 days, are still not found. Yusuf Bilge Tunç, who was kidnapped 24 days ago, is the last of the disappearances.

THEY PUT ON THEIR MASKS

The abductions of Hizmet volunteers with mafia-like methods and their families’ inability to contact them for months were protested in France. Many citizens supported the protest carried out by the Human Rights Defenders, shortly called HDR, in front of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg. Participants of the protest carried masks and photographs of the missing people.

A press release was read by HRD Secretary-General Oğuzhan Albayrak, both in Turkish and English, to request finding the missing people and bring them together with their families.

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Were the Hizmet Movement schools successful?

After Ismail Saymaz posted in his twitter account that the Gülen Movement schools could not train scientists, a debate started. Was that the case? Let’s check some of the results from the records of the international science olympiads.

MUHAMMET ALİ TOKSOY

Journalist İsmail Saymaz expressed his admiration by sharing photos from a school he visited in Switzerland, and said, “Why are these schools not in our country”?

Journalist Adem Yavuz Arslan mentioned in his reply to İsmail Saymaz’s tweet that there were hundreds of such schools in Turkey, but they were illegally seized after the state of emergency and converted into Religious Vocational High Schools (Imam-Hatip schools), and Ismail Saymaz cheered this action.

Writing in response to Adem Yavuz Arslan’s tweet, İsmail Saymaz replied that there were no scientists graduated from the schools run by the Gülen Movement.

But were the Gülen Movement schools really unsuccessful? Could they not exist in the scientific field? Or were they successful by obtaining questions beforehand, as İsmail Saymaz argued?

Gülen Movement schools were highly rated schools in Turkey before the State of Emergency. To understand the success degree of the Gülen Movement schools, we shall analyze their international achievements rather than local ones as they will reflect more objective results.

Even though it is rarely found to have “scientists” in the high schools, except for the extreme cases, high schools are the places where future scientists are discovered, encouraged, and provided with the necessary fundamental education.

 

 

The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK) is responsible for exploring the future scientists in Turkey and TÜBİTAK carries out this by organizing the National Science Olympics. Gülen Movement Schools have thousands of medals at TÜBİTAK National Science Olympiad throughout the years; however, since Ismail Saymaz can attribute these great achievements to the claim of ‘stealing questions,’ stressing out the International Science Olympiads can provide neutral results.

Longing for international medals

The first International Science Olympiad was held in Romania in 1959. Having an international delegation, The Science Olympiads are held in different countries every year. Participating in the Science Olympiads since the end of the 1970s, Turkey could obtain only a small number of bronze and silver medals. On the other hand, the “gold medal” could not be reached. When the calendars showed the year 1993, Salih Adem studying at Yamanlar College brought the first “gold medal” to Turkey in the physics area in Turkey in International Science Olympiads. Since this success was precious, Science and Technical Journal published by TÜBİTAK monthly had the photo of the student on its cover page, and TÜBİTAK allocated a large space in its journal to his school. Let us remind you that Yamanlar was shut down with a Decree-Law.

With this Gold Medal, students had more self-confidence. The next year, a student from Yamanlar College repeated the same success, and Turkey achieved its second gold medal.

A student from Istanbul Fatih College brought Turkey’s first gold medal at the International Biology Olympiad in 1996, which was organized in Ukraine.

Another success took place for the first time in 1997 summer. Salih Özçubukçu, a student from Izmir Yamanlar College, achieved the first gold medal at the International Chemistry Olympiad in Canada, and this medal was also the first international gold medal in chemistry in Turkey.

When the calendars showed the year 1999, Gülen Movement Schools achieved another great success. The 41st International Mathematics Olympiad awarded Mehmet Bumin Yenmez with a gold medal, and he was also a student of the Yamanlar College. This medal was also the first gold medal for Turkey in this area, and thus 40 years of longing ended.

Another student, studying at Ankara Samanyolu College brought the second Gold Medal to Turkey at the International Computer Olympiad.

Golden girl

After the arrival of the first gold medals for Turkey in International Science Olympiad, perhaps there was only one missing thing in this area. Only male students achieved all the Gold Medals obtained at the Olympics until 2006. Hande Boyacı made Turkey proud for the first time by getting the gold medal in the International Science Olympiad in 2006. The “Golden Girl” who brought the gold medal in chemistry to Turkey was a Yamanlar College student.

Accustoming Turkey to Gold Medals after the first gold medals in every field, with their systematic and planned studies, almost all of the students in the Science National Team participated in the International Olympiad started to return to Turkey with medals. Until 2016, when schools were unjustly closed down, approximately 90% of nearly 500 medals in International Olympiads were brought to Turkey by the students studying in Hizmet Movement schools.

Today, hundreds of students who graduated from Hizmet Movement schools not only work at the best universities in the world, like MIT, but also they work in prominent institutions, like Silicon Valley, NASA, or Microsoft.

Gülen Movement’s educational activities had long been under pressure in Turkey. Schools were under strict control with hundreds of inspectors when Turkey returned from the brink of the military coup on February 28, 1997. Mr. Gülen stated in 1998 that schools are extremely important for Turkey, and if the government wishes to continue high-standard education, instead of closing them down, he can request the school owners to handover the schools to the state.

Samanyolu College

Erdogan has targeted the educational activities of the Gülen Movement since 2012. First of all, the preparatory schools were shut down, and many schools were confiscated through the appointment of trustees. In the state of emergency, which was declared after July 15, 2016, all schools were closed down. Most of the schools were converted to Religious Vocational High School (Imam Hatip).

No more such news

Local and international media reported on the outstanding achievements of high schools such as Yamanlar, Fatih, Samanyolu for their different Science Olympiads successes. The news of gold medals is no longer common in Turkish media after Gülen Movement schools were closed down.

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NATO might face an existential crisis over Turkey

Unearthed information on NATO-Turkey relations makes NATO Summit, to be held in London on 3-4 December, all the more critical.

The Turkish Air Force did a test for S-400 systems with F-16 fighters in Ankara on Monday. President Erdoğan said the S-400 issue would be discussed at the NATO level as a result of concord with the US President Trump.

An anonymous Turkish diplomat gave a statement to the Reuters, stressing that if the Alliance does not accept Turkey’s stance toward the YPG and designate YPG as a terrorist organization in the summit declaration, Turkey would veto the NATO defense plan for the Baltics and Poland.

Decisions are made by consensus in NATO. If a country vetoes the resolution, the decision cannot be implemented. After Russia’s annexation of the Crimea in 2014, the Baltic states and Poland began to see Russia as a threat. NATO decided to take a series of measures both to resolve the security concerns of these countries and to deter Russia’s aggressive attitude.

The Trident Juncture Exercise, conducted in November last year, was the most extensive and highest participant NATO exercise ever held. Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) was established against a sudden Russian threat in the Baltic countries and Eastern Europe. In April 2019, it was decided that NATO units would be more active in the Black Sea and the Baltic Sea.

However, from an objective point of view, it is visible that measures taken could not deter Russia, for the latter rather continues to implement its policies more decisively.

Taking into account the fierce environment where the Baltic states located, Poland’s security concerns at their highest level and a debate on “the brain death of NATO,” initiated by Macron,  Turkey’s diplomatic maneuver to overcome the tension regarding the S-400 and YPG can be seen as a ruse. Well, is there any truth to it?

As stated by Merkel, even though Turkey engaged with Russia much more than the Western alliance in the last few years, Turkey is seen as a country that should be kept within NATO to prevent the country from having more momentum on these axis changes. Russia, aware of the said situation, is using its influence on Turkey to create an internal crisis in NATO.

The reported transfer of the control of railways on the Baltic line between Moscow-Saint Petersburg to the Land Forces by the Russian Ministry of Transport disclosed on social media by the nationalist accounts along with the statement given to Reuters gives the impression that Turkey and Russia are acting in concert.

Putin openly states that he is ready to intervene at any moment in the Baltic countries and Poland. The consequent atmosphere strengthens Turkey’s hand. Besides, disapproval of the defense plan would be a severe failure to NATO, as well as the realization of NATO’s brain death. While there is the reality of German Chancellor Merkel’s response to Macron’s statement that “Europe will not ensure its security without NATO,” such a failure could push not only the Baltic countries and Poland but also other continental European countries to seek new structures.

The establishment of a novel European security mechanism under French leadership can be voiced louder than before. As the success of the initiative will depend heavily on cooperation with Russia, which already holds the ropes in energy, maybe more involved in European affairs. Germany, which has taken power in the EU economically and has not brought up the issue of military power by acting with a Bismark-like foreign policy understanding so far, may choose to determine its destiny.

For the United States perspective, which criticizes EU countries for not making enough sacrifices on defense spending, watching the crisis first expect members to put forward their preferences and seeing that the members realize that NATO is the best option for everyone in the short term, then intervene the crisis can be considered as the most rational state. Accordingly, NATO’s effectiveness depends mostly on the US attitude. As a good businessman, Trump can turn this advantage over and transfer some of his NATO spendings to EU countries.

The world is going through a significant transformation. The world is facing a big transformation now. NATO, which gave a great test of adaptation to change after the Cold War, is on the eve of conversion again. One of the most critical items in the agenda of this Summit will be the discussion of the German and French proposals at the meeting of Foreign Ministers for this transformation. The consensus principle in NATO will likely be on the agenda.

NATO is the only international organization that Turkey can raise consequential views. As such, big moves on the eve of significant transformations may cause unpredictable consequences. Although Turkey’s move seems smart in terms of timing, it is quite risky in terms of conjuncture.

Turkey, amidst her collaboration with Russia, can be perceived as a country that shook the foundations of NATO. Turkey should always be a country that determines its agenda. The most significant responsibility here lies with the bureaucrats and politicians who put the interest of the country above everything.

FATİH YURTSEVEN

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S-400 defense system purchased to protect Erdoğan’s palace, critical journo says

The missile defense system that Turkey purchased from Russia and caused the crisis within NATO was first tested in Ankara. The allegations that the system was preferred to protect Erdogan’s palace were thus strengthened.

The Russian-made air defense system S-400 was tested in the capital city of Ankara, which caused controversy. Ünal Çeviköz from Republican People’s Party (CHP) criticized the situation, and the journalist Zeynep Gürcanlı said: “It was purchased to protect the Palace.”

BOLD- Turkish F-16 warplanes flew over the country’s capital Ankara on Monday and Tuesday to test the country’s brand new Russian S-400 missile defenses. For this reason, the provincial governor’s office warned the public not to be worried about the F 16s and other aircraft that would conduct low- and high-altitude flights over Ankara.

Defend Ankara or Turkey?

S 400 air defense systems were tested in Ankara, which caused controversy. “Is the S-400 to defend Turkey airspace or Ankara? Can the system with a 600 km radar range not be tested outside the settlements?” Ünal Çeviköz, the CHP Deputy Chairman, asked.

‘Erdoğan will protect his palace’

Foreign Policy columnist Zeynep Gürcanlı stated that the testing of the S-400 in Ankara is linked to the security of the Palace. Gürcanlı said “S-400s were purchased to protect the palace. When I said that before, everyone was angry with me.”

Erdoğan does not trust NATO friendly army officers

It is an important topic of debate in Turkey that Erdogan does not trust the Turkish Armed Forces senior commanders, the member of Nato. While the palace is being protected by about 2,500 police, the air defense will be provided by the Russian air defense systems that Turkey paid billions of dollars.

The question of why Erdogan’s Palace was not hit by airplanes in the controversial July 15 coup attempt is frequently asked by the opposition parties. On July 15, Erdogan’s Palace, even his huge garden, was not hit. A bomb was thrown on the road outside the palace’s garden.

Main Opposition Party’s leader, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu named ‘ July 15’ as ‘controlled coup attempt.’ Also, it is claimed that Erdogan purchased Russia’s S400s to protect himself from the Turkish army.

 

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