First Lady said…

First Lady: “July 15 coup attempt is a turning point in the history of our democracy”

Delivering an address at a panel titled “The Growth of the Turkish Economy and Advancing Democracy,” at the Harvard Club in New York, First Lady Emine Erdoğan criticized some countries for their silence in the face of the July 15 coup attempt and said: “Unfortunately some of our friends remained silent in the face of an incident in which hundreds of our citizens lost their lives, thousands others got injured and our Parliament was bombed.”

First Lady Emine Erdoğan, who is accompanying President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan during his visit to New York, where the President has participated in the 71st session of the UN General Assembly and a series of meetings on the margins of the UNGA 71, attended as a guest of honor a panel titled “The Growth of the Turkish Economy and Advancing Democracy.” Prominent academics, journalists and businesspeople from the U.S. were among the attendees of the panel that was organized by the Turkish Businesswomen Association (TİKAD) at the Harvard Club in New York.

Head of ADP Research Institute Ahu Yıldırmaz, Founding President of the World Women Global Council Dilshad Dayani, Columnist Fikret Bila from Hürriyet daily, CEO and President of KALE Group Zeynep Bodur Okyay and Reporter Hande Fırat from CNN Türk were the panelists at the panel, moderated by Yıldıray Yıldırım, William Newman Professor in Real Estate at Baruch College, CUNY.


Addressing a speech at the opening of the panel, First Lady Erdoğan underlined that the world politics was going through critical milestones. Pointing out that the U.S. was preparing for the elections, the First Lady voiced her wish that the elections yield favorable results for the U.S. people.

First Lady Erdoğan, describing the U.S. as one of the most important experiences in the history of humanity, stated: “This country of migrants might be a source of inspiration for addressing the refugee issue, one of the gravest global problems. Peaceful coexistence of people from different religions and ethnicities is an important indication of civilization.”


Citing the great sociologist of the Middle Ages, Ibn Khaldun’s words “Geography is destiny,” the First Lady said: “So indeed, living in a community of an island is not the same as living on large steppes. Every geography has its own unique destiny. The geography of Turkey as well embodies the most exceptional experience of the human history with its rich diversity that results from its positioning on migration routes. The lands we live on today also attract the attention of many countries, such that over 40 countries are in need of our archives to write their own history. Coexistence of differences is not a synthetic phenomenon in Turkey. It is built on an historical experience of thousands of years. In this regard, it is a natural source that feeds our modern democracy.”

This historical depth and geopolitical positioning raise our awareness regarding our lands, First Lady Erdoğan noted and she continued: “We are of the belief that we can live up to such a rich past only with an understanding of participative democracy. This understanding is embraced by every member of our nation.”


Expressing that current developments in Turkey might raise question marks about ‘what is going on in Turkey,’ First Lady Erdoğan described ‘what is going on in Turkey’ as “a nation’s journey of democracy,” and said: “This is such a journey that it prepares Turkey to be a strong country by all means at its 100th anniversary of foundation, free of tutelages. Even though rough parts of the road shake us from time to time and some people try to hinder us from reaching our destination, the basic goal we are motivated for is to reach by 2023 a level of economy and democracy that the geography we live in deserves.”

First Lady Erdoğan stated that the friends that closely monitored Turkey knew the history of coups that targeted Turkish democracy, and added: “Unfortunately, once every decade in our country, centers of tutelage were engaged in actions against the national will. Every coup has stolen from our country’s energy and cost our nation years. This continued so until July 15. The July 15 coup attempt is a turning point in the history of our democracy. A nation that failed to save a Prime Minister he had elected from being executed, stood up against tanks on July 15. I believe that this resistance was not by chance.”


Underlining that Turkey has been governed since 2002 with the philosophy of “making the national will sovereign,” First Lady Erdoğan continued as follows: “The Government relied only on the nation. All its investments were directed at raising the awareness of national will. In other words, it has meticulously woven democracy knot by knot. Accordingly, the July 15 showed all of us how valuable those investments were. People, including the young and women took to streets without no weapon, with just the flags in their hands at midnight to stop sophisticated tanks. I would like you to stop there and imagine: You are confronting traitors that are so raving as to bomb the Parliament and assassinate the President, by only girding on your flag! You are risking death and using your body as a shield to protect your country!”


Sharing her disappointment at the silence of the friends in the face of the July 15 coup attempt, First Lady Erdoğan said: “Unfortunately some of our friends remained silent in the face of an incident in which hundreds of our citizens lost their lives, thousands others got injured and our Parliament was bombed. At such times what your friends do gains importance rather than what your enemies do. Unfortunately, some countries abstained from even condemning this blatant coup attempt. Organizations and institutions that attempt to judge our democracy at every opportunity, have ignored the resolute struggle of our nation. They condemned the coup half-heartedly, waiting to see for sure who would win, and they even went so far as to dub it ‘fictional.’ I leave it to your judgement what feelings those shocking comments might arouse in the heart of a nation that came face to face with death.”


First Lady Erdoğan added: “Actually I would like to recount here the transformation that has taken place in Turkey over the past 14 years. I would like to explain with numbers the headway we have made in the fields of education, equality of opportunity for women and men, and economic growth. I would like to tell the story of over 150 thousand Syrian newborns that opened their eyes to the world in Turkey, which has embraced with open arms 3 million refugees while the international community remained silent on the issue. I would really like to share with you the pleasure we have for enabling women, children, and especially the humanity, stand on their feet. But unfortunately we don’t have enough time to tell all of these. Therefore, I invite you to Turkey to see developments on site. I would like you to listen from various sources to the journey of democracy to which a nation has devoted itself over the last 14 years under the shadow of a coup constitution and certain systematic problems. Our NGOs might broker such a dialogue.

Minister of Family and Social Policies Fatma Betül Sayan Kaya also made a speech at the panel and recounted what happened at the Grand National Assembly of Turkey (TBMM) on the night of July 15. Also attending the panel were First Couple’s daughter Sümeyye Erdoğan Bayraktar, Istanbul MP Ravza Kavakçı, Deputy Prime Minister Veysi Kaynak’s wife Şule Kaynak, Minister of Foreign Affairs Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu’s wife Hülya Çavuşoğlu, Turkey’s Permanent Representative to the UN Yaşar Halit Çevik’s wife Nihal Çevik, Turkey’s Ambassador to Washington, DC Serdar Kılıç’s wife Sinem Kılıç and TİKAD board members.


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