NATO, US, EU warn Turkey on coup crackdown

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BRUSSELS (AFP) – The United States, the European Union and NATO on Monday warned Turkey to respect the rule of law after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan s government launched a massive crackdown following the failed coup.

Germany and the EU also said any move by Turkey, a key Western ally, to reinstate the death penalty for the plotters of the uprising would derail Ankara s long-stalled EU membership bid.

US Secretary of State John Kerry and EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said in Brussels that Friday s attempted putsch was “no excuse” for excessive action, as Turkish authorities said they had arrested over 7,500 people.

“We will certainly support bringing the perpetrators of the coup to justice but we also caution against a reach that goes well beyond that,” Kerry told a press conference with Mogherini.

The EU and US “urge the government of Turkey to uphold the highest standards of respect for the nation s democratic institutions and the rule of law”, he added.

Kerry said that NATO, the western military alliance of which Turkey is a key member, would “measure very carefully what is happening” with respect to democracy.

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg later said he had spoken to Erdogan to say that “valued” ally Turkey must stick to the same standards as the other 27 members.

“Being part of a unique community of values, it is essential for Turkey, like all other allies, to ensure full respect for democracy and its institutions, the constitutional order, the rule of law and fundamental freedoms,” Stoltenberg said in a statement.

Earlier, Mogherini said, as EU foreign ministers met, that the “rule of law has to be protected in the country, there is no excuse for any steps that take the country away from that.”

The EU commissioner dealing with Turkey s long-stalled bid for membership of the bloc said it appeared that the government had already prepared a list before the coup of people to be rounded up.

“I mean, (that) the lists are available already after the event indicates that this was prepared and at a certain moment should be used,” enlargement commissioner Johannes Hahn told reporters.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel s spokesman denounced “revolting scenes of caprice and revenge against soldiers on the streets” after disturbing pictures emerged of the treatment of some detained suspects.

After Erdogan said on Sunday that Turkey would consider a return of capital punishment, spokesman Steffen Seibert said such a move “would mean the end of EU membership talks”.

Mogherini was quick to echo the German position. “Let me be very clear … no country can become an EU state if it introduces the death penalty,” she said.

Turkey has called on Washington to hand over exiled Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, Erdogan s chief foe, over the failed coup, but Kerry said Ankara must produce proof.

He said he had told Turkey s foreign minister “to make certain that in whatever portfolio and request they send us, they send us evidence, not allegations”.

Turkey s attempts to join the 28-nation European Union have been hobbled in recent years by concern over the increasingly authoritarian Erdogan s record on human rights and press freedom.

But the EU agreed to speed up its membership bid and give visa-free travel to Turks as part of a migrant crisis deal in which Ankara agreed to take back people landing in the Greek islands.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said that “the rule of law must prevail”. Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders also urged restraint, saying: “It s normal to punish those involved in the coup, but it s (also) normal to ask for respect for the rule of law.”

2016-07-19

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