Turkey coup: Is dictator Erdogan with blood on his hands really the EU’s next partner?
TURKEY’S controversial bid for membership of the European Union was in tatters today as Brussels reacted with horror to Islamist dictator Recep Erdogan’s bloody purge of moderates.
By Nick Gutteridge
Mon, Jul 18, 2016
The country’s path towards EU succession reached a dead end following Friday’s failed coup - with European leaders recoiling at mass arrests and plans to bring back the death penalty.
A senior EU commissioner today suggested that elements of the bloody chaos were “prepared” after autocrat Erdogan swiftly moved to arrest 8,000 moderate judges, soldiers and policemen immediately after the violence.
And as the dictator hinted he may reintroduce capital punishment for the “plotters”, EU leaders were already rowing back on their previous pledges to welcome Turkey into the Brussels fold as swiftly as possible.
Even Belgium - traditionally one of Ankara’s biggest allies in Brussels - said recent events posed serious problems for the country’s ties with the EU.
In a swipe at the increasingly authoritarian Erdogan, European Parliament president Martin Schulz said: “One man rule and arbitrary decisions are not acceptable in a country which is not only a strategic ally but also an accession candidate to the
And French foreign minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said there were “suspicions” about whether Turkey was still a viable ally for the bloc, telling EU leaders: “Let’s be honest about this.”
He promised to raise the issue of whether the country is still a serious partner in the fight against Islamic State (ISIS) when leaders of the US-led coalition meet in Washington next week.
And he added: "We have to be careful that the Turkish authorities do not put in place a political system which turns away from democracy. The rule of law must prevail. We need authority but we also need democracy."
Meanwhile Belgian foreign minister Didier Reynders voiced concern at the arrest of nearly 3,000 judges and prosecutors immediately after the coup which has been seen as an attempt by Erdogan to cement his power base.
He expressed dismay at the apparent breakdown of moderate government in the country, and said actions such as reintroducing the death penalty "would pose a problem with Turkey’s ties with the European Union”.
He blasted: "We cannot imagine that from a country that seeks to join the European Union. We must be very firm today, to condemn the coup d’etat, but the response must respect the rule of law.”
There were harsh words for Erdogan from Austria too, whose foreign minister described bringing back capital punishment as “absolutely unacceptable” in a country hoping to join the EU.
Sebastian Kurz said: “Turkey should have a clear understanding that preservation of the death penalty is rejected by us as a cruel and inhumane form of punishment.”
And the EU’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini echoed that sentiment, insisting Brussels will send a “strong message” to Ankara over maintaining the rule of law.
She said: ”We are the ones saying today rule of law has to be protected in the country. There is no excuse for any steps that takes the country away from that.
"The democratic and legitimate institutions needed to be protected.”
Around 2,000 military personnel took part in a coup attempt against President Erdogan on Friday night, seizing bridges in Istanbul and bombing Turkey’s parliament in the capital Ankara.
But a number of commentators have suggested the entire incident may have been a sham cooked up by the authoritarian leader to justify a huge crackdown on democracy, freedom of speech and human rights.