In an exclusive interview with BBC World on Friday, Erdogan said: “Why should the state feed those who are the members of a terrorist organization?”
Turkish is celebrating the first anniversary of last year's defeated coup, which martyred 250 people and injured nearly 2,200 others.
Led by U.S.-based Fetullah Gulen, FETO is accused of orchestrating the defeated coup attempt and of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police and the judiciary.
“They [FETO members] have infiltrated the judiciary, the military the police and the media. This is how they have organized and attempted the coup as a mob,” Erdogan said.
Erdogan said the Turkish judiciary was working its way to punish the culprits and urged that the Turkish judicial process should be respected.
“The judiciary is seen as the judiciary in the west. Why not the same stands for the judiciary in Turkey?” Erdogan said.
'Only 2 real journalists in jail'
“So, when these coup plotters were caught, should we have kept them in their position and not dismissed them? No. I am sorry.”
Erdogan recalled that 500,000 people were suspended during the unification of Eastern and Western Germany “and nobody said a word”.
“But these coup plotters those who perform the coup against the state in Turkey should not face any intervention? This is not possible,” said the Turkish leader.
Erdogan rejected claims that over a hundred journalists were jailed in Turkey saying: “one is jailed because of journalism”.
“Those who are in jail, they are not [journalists]. Some of them collaborated with terror organizations. Some of them were jailed for possession of a firearm. Some of them were jailed for vandalizing ATM machines or robbing them.”
Erdogan underlined that “only two real journalists are in jail right now”.
“Right now, in Turkey, so many opposition journalists write lots of things. Even recently, during the march [a protest march organized by a main opposition leader] there were all kinds of articles, all kind of insults. They are all still out there.
'A little while longer' with EU
On Turkey's EU accession process, Erdogan said the European Union has treated Turkey in an “unprecedented” way.
“From 1963 to 2017, throughout this time, they way Turkey was treated is unprecedented. And no other country was treated in this way.”
He noted that the European Union was “not sincere” and they should cease this “insincere approach” against Turkey.
“If the EU bluntly says we cannot accept Turkey into the EU, it would be comforting for us. We can then initiate our plan B or plan C,” he said. “The European Union is not indispensable for us. Turkey is able to stand on its own two feet."
“A great majority of my people don’t believe in the EU anymore. They don’t think that the EU’s approach to Turkey is sincere,” he said.
However, he added Turkey would “keep [its] sincerity with the EU a little while longer”.
The Turkish leader addressed the situation in Qatar.
'We don’t have any problem with the Kurds'
Since June 5, Qatar has been under a blockade by several Arab countries -- including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Bahrain and Yemen -- accusing Doha of supporting terrorism.
The Qatari government has denied all the accusations, blasting the blockade as “unjustified” and a violation of international law.
“We are not part of this crisis. On the contrary, in Gulf regions, we want promote dialogue and peace. We are trying to find a speedy solution there,” he said.
“We don’t want to see fighting Muslims with Muslims. We are tired of this. We don’t want to see what’s happening in Yemen. We don’t want to see those developments in Palestine and Libya. It is clear what’s happening in Syria. It is clear what’s happening in Iraq. Turkey is paying the price for this.”
Erdogan also said Syria's Bashar al-Assad had caused the deaths of nearly 1 million people and he had no right to remain as president.
“I don’t find it politically right to defend him remaining as president,” he said.
He said it was up to the Syrian people to choose their own leader. “And this should be done through democratic methods,” he said.
Erdogan vowed that Ankara would continue its fight against all terrorist organizations.
“We don’t have any problem with the Kurds. Our problems with the terrorist organizations, such as PKK, DHKP-C, YPG, PYD, Daesh and FETO. So, we decide on a definition of terror and whoever is a terrorist organization they become our enemies. We will fight to the end against them on behalf of our nation.”