End of emergency rule could open a new page in Turkey
Turkish Justice Minister Abdülhamit Gül announced on July 16 that the state of emergency, which was declared two years ago immediately after the July 15, 2016 military coup attempt, would come to an end within a few days. That means no voting in parliament will take place then and the emergency rule will stop by midnight of July 18.
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Parti) submitted a draft to parliament in the afternoon hours of July 16 including new measures to combat terrorism effectively after the end of the state of emergency, which is likely to be supported by AK Parti’s ally Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). But the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), on the other hand, claims the measures will make the state of emergency terms permanent.
Yet the end of the emergency rule, which bypasses parliament on key issues, has been something demanded internationally and domestically for better conditions and for the independence of the judiciary and the media.
It carries a symbolic value as well, since it is the first draft submitted to the newly-established parliament.
The move to lift the state of emergency is coinciding with a series of developments which is igniting hopes that tension both in domestic and foreign policies could decrease. It was interesting, for example, when President Tayyip Erdoğan related his decision to put the chief of General Staff under the command of the Defense Ministry to Turkey’s political relations with the European Union. Another example is reversing measures in recent presidential decrees over the weekend after receiving widespread public reaction, such as the one on state theaters and appointment of university rectors.
A statement by Tina Kaidanow, a U.S. State Department official, during her contacts on June 16 at the Farnborough Airshow might contribute to that changing atmosphere as well. In a surprise move, she said the U.S. was in talks with Turkey to sell Patriot missiles for Turkey’s air defense “as an alternative” to the Russian-made S-400 systems. Erdoğan, in response to criticisms from the U.S. and NATO that the S-400s could jeopardize NATO’s entire defense system, had said Turkey had to buy those because the U.S. was reluctant to sell arms to its NATO ally Turkey. The U.S. Senate had proposed to President Donald Trump to exclude Turkey from the joint production of the new generation F-35 fighter jets.
But Trump reportedly told Erdoğan last week over the phone and during a brief conversation at the NATO Summit in Brussels on July 11 that he was not for sanctions against Turkey, signaling a solution.
Trump has been asking for the release of jailed American pastor Andrew Brunson, accused of having links with the illegal network of U.S.-based Fethullah Gülen who is believed to have masterminded the July 15, 2016 coup attempt to overthrow Erdoğan’s government. And Erdoğan has been asking Trump to extradite Gülen to be tried in Turkey.
Whether a coincidence or not, the next trial of Brunson in a court in the western province of İzmir is on July 18, a few hours before the state of emergency ends.