Thursday

23rd May 2019

EU and US urge restraint as dozens killed in Turkey coup attempt

  • Clashes included strikes by Erdogan-loyal F-16 jets against tanks that had taken up positions outside parliament in the capital city. (Photo: svenwerk)

The EU and US have urged Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan to show restraint after a failed coup d’etat led to military clashes and dozens of deaths in Ankara and Istanbul.

Turkish officials told local media on Saturday (16 July) that at least 90 civilians and 104 military personnel lost their lives in overnight violence, with more than 1,000 people injured.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The clashes included strikes by Erdogan-loyal F-16 jets against tanks that had taken up positions outside parliament in the capital city.

A bomb inside parliament killed 12 people. Soldiers from the military faction that tried to seize power reportedly also fired live ammunition at Erdogan-loyal crowds on a bridge across the Bosphorus in Istanbul and in Taksim square in the city centre.

Speaking from an EU-Asia summit in Mongolia the same day, EU Council leader Donald Tusk said: “Turkey is a key partner for the European Union. The EU fully supports the democratically elected government [of Erdogan], the institutions of the country and the rule of law”.

He called for a “swift return to Turkey’s constitutional order" and said the situation cannot be resolved by firepower alone.

The EU foreign service said "any escalation of violence involving civilians has to be avoided".

The White House said in a statement “all parties in Turkey should support the democratically-elected government of Turkey, show restraint, and avoid any violence or bloodshed”.

The Nato military alliance, of which Turkey is a member, also called for "full respect" for Turkey's democratic institutions.

The shocking events unfolded late on Friday when tanks and soldiers rolled into Turkey’s two main cities, taking control of Istanbul’s main airport, bridges, public squares and some state-run media.

The rogue military group said in a statement that they did it "to ensure and restore constitutional order, democracy, human rights and freedoms".

It promised to create a “peace council” to rule the country and to draft a new constitution.

Erdogan was at the time on holiday in the seaside resort of Marmaris in south-west Turkey.

He said in a message broadcast by videophone on CNN-Turk from an unknown location: “I urge the Turkish people to convene at public squares and airports. There is no power higher than the power of the people”.

He added that the “chain of command has been violated. This is a step against the higher ranks, and the judiciary will swiftly respond to this attack.”

He then flew to Istanbul on Saturday morning, amid reports that the rogue soldiers had begun to surrender en masse to Erdogan-loyal crowds.

Addressing one gathering of people in the city, he said: “The government is in control … We are in charge and we will continue exercising our powers until the end. We will not abandon our country to these invaders.”

He later said on TV “It will end well… The most important thing right now is that millions of Turkish citizens are on the streets.”

His office added in a statement that the plotters would “pay a heavy price for their treason to Turkey”, amid reports that more than 1,500 military personnel had been detained.

Turkey’s acting military chief, Umit Dundar, said on TV: “The coup attempt was rejected by the chain of command immediately. The people have taken to the streets and voiced their support for democracy”.

Speaking from exile in the US, Fethullah Gulen, an influential Islamic teacher who is hostile to Erdogan, said he “categorically” rejected accusations of his involvement in the events.

The attempted coup is the fifth such event in the country since 1960.

Erdogan’s party, the AKP, won recent elections in a mostly free and fair ballot.

But the president has in the past two years cracked down on opposition parties, journalists, independent judges and prosecutors in developments criticised by the EU.

EU gives up on Turkey visa deadlines

Turkish citizens will not get visa-free travel to the EU by the end of June, and the commission now admits it cannot give a date for completion of the deal.

EU silence on Turkey abuses is 'shameful'

Can Dundar, editor-in-chief of the opposition daily Cumhuriyet in Turkey, says the EU has lost credibility after kowtowing to Erdogan's authoritarianism.

EU trying to bury report on Turkey migrant returns

The EU's asylum agency in Malta is working to determine if Turkey is safe enough to return asylum seekers. Their probe has riled the EU commission and some EU states who want it to stop.

News in Brief

  1. Poll: Denmark set to double number of liberal MEPs
  2. European brands 'breaking' chemical safety rules
  3. Report: Merkel was lobbied to accept EU top job
  4. May struggling to get Brexit deal passed at fourth vote
  5. German MPs show interest in 'Magnitsky' sanctions
  6. CoE: Rights violations in Hungary 'must be addressed'
  7. EU affairs ministers rubber-stamp new ban on plastics
  8. Private companies campaign to boost turnout in EU poll

Analysis

EU should stop an insane US-Iran war

"If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!", US president Donald Trump tweeted on Monday (20 May).

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  3. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  4. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  5. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  6. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  11. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  12. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  3. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  8. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  9. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  10. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  11. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us