STRASBOURG: The state of emergency declared in Turkey after a July 15 coup attempt will be lifted only when circumstances permit such a move, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Wednesday.
“As soon as we normalise fully the situation we will lift the state of emergency,” Cavusoglu told a news conference at the Strasbourg headquarters of the Council of Europe, of which Turkey is a member.
Since the coup bid, tens of thousands of people from all walks of life, including police and military officers, judges, teachers, civil servants and journalists, have been arrested or lost their jobs under the state of emergency, which was extended last week for an additional three months.
The crackdown, aimed at people with alleged links to a US-based Islamic preacher accused of masterminding the failed coup, has alarmed Turkey’s Western allies, including the European Union, which have warned Ankara that it must act within the rule of law.
Within Turkey, activists say the crackdown is being used to silence legitimate political opposition.
“We cooperate with the Council of Europe, we inform (it) of all the legal actions we are taking and this process is very transparent and in the line of the Convention and the core values of the Council of Europe,” Cavusoglu said.
While all EU states belong to it, the 47-member Council of Europe is a separate entity, with a focus on promoting democracy and the rule of law, and enforcing the European Convention on Human Rights.
Last week, the Council’s human rights commissioner, Nils Muiznieks, urged Ankara to end its state of emergency “as soon as possible”.
Cavusoglu said, “we had to extend the state of emergency because the situation is very complex. We had to make sure that this attempted coup never happens again.”
In a speech to the Council, the minister called on the body’s members to visit Turkey so as “to grasp the gravity of the situation” for themselves.
“The threat has not been entirely abolished,” he said, referring to the movement of the US-based preacher, Fethullah Gulen.
Cavusoglu conceded that some of those affected by the nationwide purges may in fact have been targeted in error.
“It is true, mistakes have been made. Our responsibility is to correct them and respect the law,” he said, adding that some 3,000 suspended civil servants had returned to their posts.