U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Sunday praised the courage of the Turkish people in defending democracy from an attempted coup almost exactly a year ago, although he made no mention of the widespread crackdown that has followed.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of an oil conference in Istanbul, where he received an award recognizing his four decades of work in the industry, Tillerson also said the United States saw Turkey as a partner in its push for greater energy security in the region.

“We’re all here in Istanbul at a momentous time. Nearly a year ago, the Turkish people – brave men and women – stood up against coup plotters and defended their democracy,” Tillerson said.

“I take this moment to recognize their courage and honor the victims of the events of July 15, 2016.”

A group of rogue soldiers commandeered tanks, helicopters and warplanes on the night of July 15, attacking parliament and seizing control of roads and bridges in an effort to overthrow the government.

The putsch failed when thousands of Turks took to the streets in protest, answering a call from President Tayyip Erdogan to resist the coup. More than 240 people, many of them civilians, died that night.

 

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