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TURKEY REQUESTS CITIZEN’S EXTRADITION FROM AZERBAIJAN

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On 21 June, a Baku court held the first hearing on Turkey’s request to extradite a Turkish citizen from Azerbaijan.

Isa Özdemir stands accused by Turkish authorities of being a member of FETÖ, exiled Turkish preacher Fethullah Gülen’s alleged terrorist network.

Özdemir, who has lived in Azerbaijan since 1993, calls the accusations slanderous and has protested against his possible extradition to Turkey. He is currently being held under arrest in Baku.

At the first hearing, Özdemir’s lawyers presented to the court documents showing that he had received asylum from the UN.

A representative from the Turkish Ministry of Justice submitted a letter guaranteeing that, should Özdemir be extradited to Turkey, he will not be subjected to torture or inhuman treatment and all his rights will be respected.

The court requested notarized copies of all the documents. The next hearing will be held on 4 July.

The Turkish authorities have been pursuing Gülen and his supporters since the summer of 2016 when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan accused the preacher of organizing an attempted coup. In the two years since, tens of thousands of people have been arrested in Turkey for links with Gülen, more than 100,000 people have lost their jobs, and persecution for “Gülenism” has spread to the South Caucasus.

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Turkey

Turkey surprises Greek Minister with low flying jets

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The meeting between the foreign ministers of Turkey and Greece was briefly interrupted on Sept. 4 when low flying Turkish acrobatic jets surprised the Greek minister, who was calmed down by his Turkish counterpart. During the press conference, noise from the low flying Solo Türk acrobatic jets filled the room at one moment. When the Greek minister anxiously pointed to the sky, Çavuşoğlu calmed him down with a smile, telling him there was nothing to worry about. Solo Türk jets were in a test flight ahead of their upcoming show for the 96th anniversary of İzmir’s liberation from the Greek invasion in the aftermath of World War I.

Turkey and Greece have pledged to develop bilateral ties through dialogue and cooperation despite disputes that need to be resolved, the foreign ministries of the two countries have said.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and his Greek counterpart Nikos Kotzias inaugurated the renovated Greek Consulate General in the western province of İzmir on Sept. 4.

The consulate in İzmir was closed in 2003 for restoration works, but the process never finished due to the Greek economic crisis in the last decade.

“Turkey and Greece represent two big civilizations rich in history and geography. We carry the richness and traces of these two big civilizations together. Both our countries are home to scores of cultural heritages,” Çavuşoğlu said.

Cooperation and dialogue are regarded as the fundamental constituent in Turkey’s relations with Greece, he stressed.

“As Nikos said, there are issues we disagree on. We have sometimes experienced stormy weather. But at the end of the day commonsense prevails as the two sides regard cooperation and dialogue as the fundamental constituent of our ties,” the Turkish minister said.

Citing growing economic and trade ties between the two neighbors, Çavuşoğlu offered his counterpart to accelerate works to launch a ferry line between İzmir and the Greek city of Thessaloniki.

Referring to Greece’s decision to provide legal protection to eight Turkish troops who fled to Greece after taking part in the July 2016 coup attempt, Çavuşoğlu said: “Turkey never harbors traitors of Greece on its soil. It is home only to the friends of Greece.”

Consulate symbol of a new beginning

For his part, the Greek foreign minister described the inauguration of the new building of the consulate general as the symbol of a new beginning in ties despite some bilateral problems.

“We are working with Mr. Çavuşoğlu to better our relations. We are also working on Turkey’s EU orientation. Two big leaders are in power in our countries. They are capable of resolving current problems based on international law,” he said.

Greece stood against coup plotters

The Greek top diplomat recalled that Greece has always stood by Turkey against coup plotters, saying Greece never “harbored terrorists.”

“We do not host them. What is always the case in our country is the implementation of the legal processes and international legal process. I believe our relations, our friendship and European vocation are also based on it,” he said.

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Armenia

Armenia police detain Turk wanted by US

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YEREVAN. – In cooperation with the Interpol bureau in Armenia, Armenian police on Wednesday have found—in capital city Yerevan—ethnic Turk Kevin (Kemal) Öksüz, whom US law enforcers are seeking, and who had founded a company in Armenia and started business activities in the country.

On August 23, an international search was declared for Öksüz, under the US criminal code, and on charges of falsifying documents and submitting a false statement, Police of Armenia informed Armenian News-NEWS.am.

He was the chairman of a public, nonprofit organization of Turkish Americans and Eurasians. The objective of this organization was to establish close relations between Turks and Americans by organizing trips to Turkey and Azerbaijan.

In 2013, Öksüz had invited several US Congress members and some others to a private trip to Azerbaijan and Turkey.

The Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE), established by the US House of Representatives, oversees Congress members’ private visits, and under the US Federal Travel Regulation (FTR). According to this regulation, the tour sponsors need to fill out respective special forms.

As the alleged organizer of this trip, Kevin (Kemal) Öksüz had submitted to the OCE forms which he had falsified, and he noted that the aforesaid organization had received no funding from any source.

It was found out, however, that the Öksüz-led organization had not paid for all the travel expenses and had received funding, including from the Azerbaijani government-owned State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR).

Also, it was found out that nine members and 32 staff members of the US Congress had received gifts worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Kevin (Kemal) Öksüz has been detained.

news.am/eng

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Middle East

US reportedly installs air defense systems in northern Syria

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It has been claimed the United States has installed air defense and electronic radar systems in Kobani, which are controlled by the PYD and YPG and in the al-Shaddadi U.S. base in the Hasakah province, in preparation for creating a no-fly zone in northern Syria.

The PYD and YPG are considered by Turkey as the illegal PKK’s Syrian offshoot and, thus, designated as terrorist organizations.

Ankara had launched two cross-border operations into northern Syria to disable these groups from establishing what it calls a terror corridor along the Turkish-Syrian border.

The Ankara government is closely monitoring the news regarding the installation of air defense and radar systems reported by some foreign media outlets.

A video circulating on social media purportedly shows U.S. soldiers installing the systems shipped to Kobani with military transport aircraft.

With those systems, the U.S. is said to want to create a no-fly zone in an area stretching from Manbij to Deir ez-Zor.

Turkish security sources said they are monitoring the activities in the region.

“We are looking into those claims [regarding the installment of radar systems],” the sources said. However, the sources neither confirmed nor denied those media reports.

One security official added they are doing what is necessary to collect more accurate information from local intelligence sources.

Radar systems are being installed in the rural areas of Kobani just across the Turkish border town of Suruç in the southeastern province of Şanlıurfa, foreign media outlets reported citing local sources.

“The U.S. wants to observe military air jets in the region,” an American commander in the video footage explained the reason for installing the radar systems.

It is claimed air defense systems are installed against possible Turkish airstrikes on PYD-controlled Kobani and other areas in the region.

The Pentagon established a new military base in Syria’s Manbij this year in addition to other military installments across northern Syria.

“We are prepared to stay here [in Syria] to ensure the enduring defeat of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant [ISIL],” U.S. Department of State representative William Roebuck said on Aug. 26.

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