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24th Mar 2019

MEPs fear further 'Putinisation' of Turkey

  • MEPs fear Turkish president Erdogan is using the failed coup as a cover for a 'witch-hunt' (Photo: Reuters)

"We have seen that from a coup you can get to a counter-coup," conservative German MEP Elmar Brok summed up the mood at an extraordinary meeting of the European Parliament's foreign affairs committee on Tuesday (19 July) to discuss events in Turkey.

MEPs and EU neighbourhood commissioner Johannes Hahn criticised the Turkish government for the harsh crackdown launched after last Friday's failed military overthrow.

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  • "Even in a state of emergency, clear rules have to be respected," EU commissioner Hahn said. (Photo: European Parliament)

"I was suprised that in a few days, in a few hours you can come up with a list of thousands of prosecutors and lawyers held responsible for the coup," Brok said.

"It is an incredible administrative effort," he quipped.

Brok added that there was a danger that with the ongoing crackdown, Turkey could move further away from Europe.

More than 9,000 people have been detained since Saturday and over 10,000 civil servants have been suspended.

On Tuesday, 1,577 university deans were urged to resign, and 24,000 teachers and interior ministry employees across the country were fired.

Kari Piri, the parliament's rapporteur for Turkey, said the Ankara government has the right and obligation to bring the people involved in the coup to justice.

But the Dutch social-democrat MEP also asked for restraint from the Turkish authorities.

"The first reactions by the Turkish authorities raise the fear that the government of president Erdogan is pursuing a witch-hunt as thousands of military, police, judges and governors have been arrested or put on non-active," Piri said.

"I hope recent events will not be used to further 'Putinise' Turkey," she said, referring to Russian president Vladimir Putin's autocratic rule.

Piri recalled that there have been concerns for several years over silencing critics in Turkey and curtailing the media.

She also said it was high time that the EU's external service appoints a new ambassador to Turkey, after the previous one left last month after making critical comments about the Turkish government.

Hahn reiterated that he was concerned by the fact that Turkish authorities came up with a list of people to arrest in a matter of hours. He added that he was surprised that his earlier similar comments caused a stir.

"To come up with a list in a few hours, is something most administrations aren’t able to do," he said.

"With 20 percent of judges suspended or replaced, that will have a direct impact on judicial rulings," the Austrian commissioner said.

"Even in a state of emergency, clear rules have to be respected," he warned Ankara.

His comments were criticised by Turkish foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, who said Hahn's statements were unacceptable. He also added that no-one should prejudge the end of the judicial process.

MEPs also reiterated that introducing the death penalty in Turkey would end EU accession talks.

Jan Philipp Albrecht, a German Green MEP, said what was happening in Turkey was president Recep Tayyip Erdogan's doing, and could not be blamed on the EU.

"What is just happening is that president Erdogan is changing fundamental values and rule of law principles, and it is EU not doing that, we are not threatening anybody when we say introducing the death penalty ends the accession procedure," he said.

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