On July 16, Turkish Heritage Organization (THO) and BAU International University hosted a panel “Second Anniversary of the July 15 Coup Attempt” with keynote speaker retired General Salih Zeki Colak commemorating the second anniversary of the most critical event in recent Turkish history.
Second Anniversary of the July 15 Coup Attempt
16 Jul 18
On July 16, Turkish Heritage Organization (THO) and BAU International University hosted a panel “Second Anniversary of the July 15 Coup Attempt” with keynote speaker retired General
Salih Zeki Colak commemorating the second anniversary of the most critical event in recent Turkish history.
The panel was moderated by President of DSC Consulting and Turkish American Activist Derya Taskin and included the following speakers:
- Salih Zeki Colak – Retired General Commander of the Turkish Land Forces
- Lincoln P. Bloomfield, Jr. – Chairman Emeritus, Stimson Center/Former Ambassador
- Paolo von Schirach – President, Global Policy Institute
THO President Ali Cinar began the program with opening remarks on the effects of the coup attempt on US and Turkey relations. He stated, “As you all know, Turkey experienced one of its most difficult periods in its history following the tragic events of July 15 when a faction of the Turkish Armed Forces attempted to overthrow Turkey’s democratically elected government.” Following such detrimental events, he said that it has also been a “particularly challenging year for the U.S.-Turkey relationship,” but “regardless of these challenges, THO continues to actively carry out its mission through events, programs, research, and publications within its capacity.”
This was followed by a speech by Turkish Ambassador Serdar Kilic, who shared his respect for the civilians that died during the coup attempt, stating that they “only held Turkish flags, not weapons.” He urged the American audience to take the effort of understanding how the Gulen movement affects both Americans and Turks. He said “As American citizens, you should concentrate on what he is trying to do in the U.S. You are turning a blind eye to what he is doing in the U.S. His organization is running charter schools in the U.S. and taking taxpayer money.” He asserted that despite Gullen’s claims of promoting interfaith dialogue, “what he is doing has nothing to do with religion” and that he has attacked religious groups.
After the opening remarks moderator Taskin introduced the panelists and gave a short biography of Salih Zeki Çolak’s time in the military, where he served as a Western European Union Military Representative in the NATO Turkish Military Representative Council, located in Brussels, Belgium. On the night of the July 15th coup attempt he was taken hostage by his subordinates in the military. In 2017, it was announced that Salih Zeki Colak retired after completing his services to the nation of Turkey. Colak recounted his personal experience as a hostage by his subordinates on the coup attempt night. He explained how he and other hostages were was held “in a roofless, single-room building near the runway, with our hands and ankles tied, for approximately 14 hours.”
After Colak’s harrowing story the moderator returned to the panelists and asked, “Considering the fact that Gulen resides in the United States, how are US and Turkey relations affected from this issue?”
Both Bloomfield and von Schirach began by giving their condolences to the lives lost during the coup attempt and emphasized that it is clear to see the value of Turkey as a geopolitical partner for the United States. Bloomfield reminded the event that the “bilateral agenda was filled with stress between the two friends”, before the coup attempt but the two countries have continued to make compromises and maintain their relationship. Von Schirach echoed such remarks and added the importance of expediting Gulen through the American legal process with the urgency it deserves.
General Salih Zeki Colak's Speech
Second Anniversary of the July 15 Coup Attempt Panel - Summary
16 Jul 18
On July 16, THO and BAU hosted a panel discussion on the “Second Anniversary of the July 15 Coup Attempt”.