Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s address to the Albanian Parliament this afternoon was an unequivocal call for Albania’s support in Turkey’s fight against cleric Fethullah Gulen and his followers.
Both in his speech to parliament, and during his earlier press conference with Prime Minister Edi Rama, Erdoğan highlighted Turkey’s various investments in Albania. These include a hospital in the central city of Fier, and the newly inaugurated apartments in Laç.
According to Erdoğan, Turkey has invested some €3.5 billion in Albania through 600 companies that employ more than 15,000 people.
The focus of his remarks during today’s visit was also Turkey’s support for Albania in the aftermath of the 2019 earthquake and during the COVID-19 pandemic. In this regard, Erdoğan promised to supply Albania with Turkey’s newly-created vaccine Turkovac.
While Erdoğan maintained that this support comes with no strings attached, and is done in the name of solidarity and brotherhood between the Turkish and Albanian people, his speech to parliament told another story.
“A precondition to our support and brotherhood,” Erdoğan said, “is your commitment to the fight against FETÖ.”
As highlighted during his speech, Erdoğan holds FETÖ responsible for the government coup that sought to oust him in 2016. He said that FETÖ’s roots run deep, and he claims the organization represents a danger to Albania.
In the past, Turkey has leveraged their ties to Albania and Kosovo to crack down on Fethullah Gulen’s alleged followers, leading to extraditions and school shut-downs.
These cases, involving more than 100 people, were described by United Nations rapporteurs as “extraterritorial abductions”, “forcible return”, and “enforced disappearances.”