Recep Tayyip Erdogan gave a speech at the parliament for the opening of the second legislative session of the year, in which he said the deputies had shown a proud and strong stance against the coup.
“Our parliament has become a veteran for a second time, after the Turkish War of Independence, on July 15. Turkey, with all 79 million citizens, gave a freedom and democracy lesson that should be shown as an example throughout history to the world,” Erdogan said.
Turkey blames the Fetullah Terrorist Organization, or FETO, for the July 15 plot. At least 241 people were martyred and nearly 2,200 injured in the failed coup which the government said was organized by followers of Fetullah Gulen, the FETO leader who lives in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania.
Gulen is accused of leading a long-running campaign to overthrow the Turkish government through the infiltration of state institutions, particularly the military, police and judiciary, forming what is commonly known as the parallel state.
"I am expressing and underlining once again: We must not forget July 15, and we must not make them forget."
Erdogan also praised the Yenikapi spirit which was demonstrated in a massive rally organized to highlight the Turkish people’s resistance against the coup.
“Protecting and maintaining the Yenikapi spirit is our responsibility,” he said.
The Democracy and Martyrs' Rally was held in Istanbul on Aug. 7. Other demonstrations took place all across the country.
-Military Operation against Daesh
Erdogan also brought up Turkey’s ongoing Operation Euphrates Shield against Daesh in Syria.
“These operations are being supported by local communities,” he said.
“We are in an intense effort to erase the traces of the devastation made by separatist terrorist group in the region [southern and eastern of Turkey], to resolve our citizens’ grievances and to rebuild our cities,” Erdogan said.
Operation Euphrates Shield began last month and saw the Free Syrian Army, backed by the Turkish military, take control of the city of Jarabulus from Daesh.
Turkey has said the operation is aimed at bolstering border security, supporting coalition forces and eliminating the threat posed by terror organizations, namely Daesh.
Erdogan also reiterated the need for a “safe zone” for refugees in northern Syria.
“Our aim is to establish 5,000 square kilometers [1,900 square miles] of secure area which will be cleared of terrorist organizations,” he said.
Erdogan had previously said the fulfillment of three conditions – a safe zone, a no-fly zone, and a train-and-equip program for Syrian rebels – would help solve the refugee issue.
The Turkish president also addressed the issue of visa-free access to the EU for Turkish citizens.
“The visa-liberalization deal should come into force this month,” he said.
Visa liberalization has been one of the key promises of the European Union as part of a deal hammered out in March to enhance EU-Turkey cooperation in addressing the refugee crisis and to accelerate Turkey’s membership talks.
Turkey has so far met most of the requirements for visa liberalization, but the EU’s demands for change in Ankara’s anti-terrorism laws led to a deadlock in negotiations.
The foiled July 15 coup attempt in Turkey and Ankara’s declaration of a three-month state of emergency led to further uncertainty about future talks on visa liberalization. Ankara insists that due to the serious terrorism threat, it will not make any changes.