Followers of the U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen will be “rooted out” from the Balkans, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Oct. 11 in a speech in the Serbian town of Novi Pazar.
“We will root out this treacherous gang called [the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization] FETÖ from the Balkans, just as we did from our country,” Erdoğan said alongside his Serbian counterpart Aleksandar Vucic.
Gülenists are widely believed to have been behind Turkey’s failed July 15, 2016 coup attempt, and during his speech Erdoğan praised Vucic for his support in Ankara’s struggle against FETÖ.
“One of the first leaders that supported us on the night of July 15 was Vucic. I cannot forget Vucic’s support after the coup attempt. I know what kind of struggle my dear friend has given against FETÖ,” he said, adding that “Turkey’s trust and confidence in Vucic is absolute on the issue.”
Erdoğan also said local people are “paying the price of chaos” for clashes that “erupt with the provocations of exterior powers” in the Balkans, urging the people of Balkans to “unite.”
“The more you unite, come together and be brothers as the Balkan peoples, the stronger, safer and more prosperous you will become,” he added.