European Leaders Condemn Turkey Coup and Call for Restraint

  • EU leaders unanimously defend Turkish democracy, constitution
  • Erdogan must live up to democratic values, EU leaders insist

European leaders condemned the army faction that attempted to overthrow Turkey’s elected government. But they also had a message for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan: don’t over-react.

Federica Mogherini, the European Union’s foreign policy representative, on Saturday called for “restraint and responsibility” from Turkish police and security forces as she condemned the coup. “We underline the need for a swift return to Turkey’s constitutional order with its checks and balances and stress the importance for the rule of law and fundamental freedoms to prevail,” she added.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault coupled denunciation of the attempt with the hope that “Turkish democracy emerges reinforced from this ordeal and that fundamental liberties are respected.” German Chancellor Angela Merkel said her country “stands at the side of all those in Turkey who defend democracy and the rule of law,” including Erdogan’s opponents.

The Turkish president blamed the coup plot on followers of U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen, a one-time ally-turned nemesis. “They will pay a heavy price for their treason,” he vowed. A group backed by the preacher condemned military intervention in domestic politics and Turkish officials haven’t provided any evidence of Gulenists’ involvement.

Rival Blamed

Almost 200 people, including dozens of coup backers, were killed and 2,839 military personnel were arrested, pro-Erdogan forces said.

“It’s important that the democratic principles to which President Erdogan and the legitimate Turkish government have referred to in recent hours are fulfilled,” Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said in his denunciation of the coup plot.

European leaders have been alarmed by Turkey’s recent return to more authoritarian leadership under Erdogan, who has resumed conflict with the country’s Kurds, pressured media that support the opposition, and is seeking to rewrite the constitution to give more powers to the presidency.

At the same time, he is a crucial component in Europe’s plan to hold back the flow of migrants from the Middle East. A dispute over Turkey’s anti-terrorism laws threatens to derail a deal between the EU and Turkey, a membership candidate, on stemming the flow of refugees from the Middle East via Turkey to Europe.

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