Turkey’s FM in talks with European leaders over criticism of post-July 15 measures
Emine Kart - ANKARA
AA photoForeign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu is in the midst of a series of telephone contacts with European counterparts amid ongoing tension between Turkey and the European Union in the aftermath of the attempted coup plot of July 15.
Çavuşoğlu’s contacts with Elmar Brok, the chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament, and Estonian Foreign Minister Marina Kaljurand took place on Aug. 15 upon his counterparts’ request, Turkish diplomatic sources told the Hürriyet Daily News on Aug. 16.
Relations between Turkey and the Council of Europe (CoE), as well as Ankara’s dialogue with Brussels were items on the agenda between Çavuşoğlu and Kaljurand, as Estonia is currently presiding over the Council of Europe, said the same sources, speaking under condition of anonymity.
“As for the contact initiated by Brok, Çavuşoğlu has briefed the European lawmaker of the treacherous coup attempt and measures taken in its aftermath,” they said.
“The minister has also given information to Brok about structure of FETÖ [the Fetullahist Terrorist Organization], voiced the uneasiness having stemmed from the unfair criticism directed by Europe at Turkey along this process, and particularly noted that partial reports in the European press haven’t been reflecting the truth,” they added.
‘Not creating myths’
As early as July 19, Brok and Kati Piri, the rapporteur for Turkey at the European Parliament, released a joint statement upon discussing the motives and the possible consequences of the recent attempted coup with Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn and representatives of the European External Action Service.
MEPs emphasized that to ensure further accession talks Turkey must stick to democracy, the rule of law and human rights, said the statement.
“I noted with shock what happened during and after the attempted coup, including the listing and the swift removal of thousands judges and public servants. There is a danger now that Turkey could move further away from Europe. The introduction of the death penalty is a clear line, it could prevent further EU accession talks. It is important to stay calm though and make sure we are not creating myths. Turkey is a strategic partner and we will only get peace in Syria if Ankara is involved. But on the other hand, two-thirds of foreign direct investment in the country comes from Europe, so let us not pretend that we depend on Turkey,” Brok said.
“After such a violent attack on Turkish democratic institutions, it’s important that in the end that democracy and the rule of law come out of this strengthened, not weakened,” Piri said.
“The Turkish government has the right and the obligation to bring the people involved in the attempted coup to justice. But the first reactions by the Turkish authorities raise the fear that the government of President [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan is pursuing a witch-hunt, as thousands of military, police, judges and governors have been arrested or put on non-active duty,” she added.
‘Festival of autocrats’, ‘Putinization’, ‘reconciliation’ and ‘polarization’
At the time, the two European lawmakers had also touched upon the then-upcoming meeting of Erdoğan with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“As for the meeting of the Turkish president with Russian president Vladimir Putin, I hope we won’t see a festival of autocrats,” said Brok, in an apparent reference to the Aug. 9 dialogue in St. Petersburg between Erdoğan and Putin.
“I ask the Turkish government for restraint and respect for the rule of law. In this situation, further Putinization of Turkey poses a risk to the EU and must be avoided at all costs. I sincerely hope that Turkey takes this as an opportunity for reconciliation and national unity after years of polarization,” Piri had said.