(Vatican Radio) The European Union and the United States have expressed alarm with Turkey's response to a failed coup after thousands of people, including opponents of the government and members of the judiciary, were detained and thousands of police officers removed from their post. And the EU expressed concerns over plans by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to re-instate the death penalty.
Speaking in Brussels, EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini said this weekend's coup attempt was in her words "no excuse to take the country away from fundamental rights and the rule of law" and explained that the 28-nation bloc would be extremely vigilant on that.
She also made clear that plans by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to reinstate
the death penalty would harm Turkey's efforts to become an EU member. "Let me be very
clear...No country can become an EU member state if it introduces the death penalty,”
she said. "This is for sure....Turkey is an important part of the Council of Europe
and as such is bound by the European Convention on Human Rights, which is very clear
on the death penalty.”
She spoke at a news conference with US secretary of State John Kerry after Turkey's government said more than 7,500 people were detained, including hundreds of judges and prosecutors and other perceived opponents of Turkey's leadership.
Up to 8000 police officers, dozens of governors and more than 50 high-ranking civil servants were dismissed for allegedly supporting the coup.
Secretary Kerry echoed the EU's concerns about these developments."Now, obviously, a lot of people have been arrested and arrested very quickly, and so as Federica has said, I think the level of vigilance and scrutiny is obviously going to be significant in the days ahead. And we’ll work very closely, and hopefully we can work in a constructive way that prevents a backsliding, and that is our hope," he said.
Kerry added that Washington would consider an extradition request for the US-based cleric that Turkey's president is blaming for a failed coup attempt. But he said Turkey's government would have to prove Fethullah Gulen's wrongdoing.
The cleric, a former ally-turned-rival of Turkey's president has denied involvement in the coup and said it appeared a "staged or hoax coup" as part of an apparent attempt to silence opponents of President Erdogan. "First of all the important political leaders who are supposed to be taken into custody in the military coup, they were not touched. They were not pursued. Empty buildings were bombed, people fired on innocent civilians, tanks were positioned in places and did nothing. When you look at this big picture, this is not the picture of an authentic coup," he told reporters.
The tensions come while the situation in Turkey remains volatile: In the latest
violence, an unidentified assailant burst into the office of the deputy mayor of a
district in Istanbul and shot him in the head. The coup itself left more than 200
people dead and more than 1,500 wounded.
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