WASHINGTON/ANKARA/BERLIN: The Turkish cabinet agreed late Monday to extend for another three months the state of emergency imposed after last July’s failed coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the deputy premier said.
The decision comes after a meeting of the National Security Council (MGK), chaired by Erdogan, to recommend its extension.
“The recommendation was considered and the Council of Ministers signed to extend the state of emergency for another three months from Wednesday,” Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus told reporters in Ankara.
The emergency was due to end on April 19. Its extension follows the approval by Turkish voters of constitutional changes boosting Erdogan’s powers on Sunday.
The state of emergency has been renewed twice before in October and January after it was first declared on July 20, five days after the attempted putsch.
Now the decision will go to parliament for final approval, Kurtulmus said.
The deputy prime minister said the decision was not made to give the Turkish government free rein but because of its “fight against terrorist groups”.
“In this struggle, whatever is necessary will be done” against those accused of links to putschists, Kurtulmus said.
Meanwhile, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan told international election observers on Monday to ‘know their place’ after they criticised a referendum granting him sweeping new powers, and said it was not so important to Turkey if the EU broke off accession talks.
Addressing crowds of flag-waving supporters from the steps of the presidential palace in Ankara, Erdogan said Sunday’s vote had ended all debate on changing the constitution and creating an executive presidency. Implementing the reforms would now begin, starting with the judiciary, he said.
Election authorities said preliminary results showed 51.4 per cent of voters had backed the biggest overhaul of Turkish politics since the founding of the modern republic in Sunday’s referendum.
He also vowed that Turkey’s ‘Euphrates Shield’ incursion into northern Syria would not be its last such venture in the region but its first, saying it would carry out as many military operations as necessary, wherever necessary, in its fight against terrorism.
Germany warned Turkey on Monday against further distancing itself from Europe by reinstating the death penalty after a disputed referendum and urged authorities to seek “respectful dialogue” to heal a divided society.
Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said if Ankara were to bring back the death penalty, the move would be “synonymous with the end of the European dream” and mark the end of decades of negotiations to enter the European Union.
It is in Turkey’s “own interest” not to distance itself further from Europe, said Gabriel in an interview with Bild, a German mass circulation daily, to be published on Tuesday.
“Any decision [about joining the EU] will not be on the agenda anytime soon. At any rate, joining would not work right now,” he added, noting that Turkey must decide which direction to take.
Immediately after winning a nail-biting vote on extending his powers, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan mooted a second referendum on bringing back the death penalty, which would sound the death knell for the country’s EU ambitions.
“If [a bill] comes before me, I will approve it. But if there isn’t support [from opposition MPs] … then we could have another referendum for that,” Erdogan said, as his supporters chanted for its reintroduction.
Turkey abolished the death penalty in 2004 as part of its bid to join the European Union and Brussels has made it clear that any move to restore it would scupper Ankara’s efforts to join the bloc.
In an earlier joint statement with Gabriel, Chancellor Angela Merkel urged Turkish authorities to “seek respectful dialogue with all political and social forces in the country after this tough election campaign.”
Merkel said Germany “respected the right of Turks to decide on their constitution” but added that “the close result shows the extent to which Turkish society is deeply divided.”
Ties between Germany and Turkey plunged during the referendum campaign when Erdogan accused authorities of acting like “Nazis” by banning ministers from campaigning to Germany’s huge ex-pat Turkish community.
The ‘Yes’ camp won with 51.41 per cent in Sunday’s vote on giving Erdogan sweeping new powers, according to near-complete results, but angry opposition groups have cried foul and demanded a recount.
International observers from the Council of Europe and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe said the referendum campaign was conducted on an “unlevel playing field” and the vote count itself was marred by the late procedural changes that removed key safeguards.
US not to comment before observers’ report
The White House said on Monday that it would wait to comment on a referendum that granted sweeping new powers to Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan.
“There is an international commission that is reviewing this and issues a report in 10 to 12 days. We will wait and let them do their jobs,” White House spokesman Sean Spicer said at a briefing.