Turkish Foreign Minister: Fighting The Enemies Of Democracy With Democracy , 09.08.2016
The night of July 15, a lovely summertime for many, evolved almost into a horrifying nightmare for the Turkish democracy. The treasonous putschists hiding in the military, linked to the Fettullahist Terror organization (FETÖ), attempted to overthrow the democratically elected government together with the president and the constitutional order in Turkey. In full betrayal to their sacred uniforms, they massacred the civilians who bravely stood against them; their tanks crushed these innocent democracy defenders.
The terrorists attacked the presidency and bombarded the Turkish parliament with the MPs inside, along with their attempt to assassinate the president. They raided violently the free media that never ceased to air calls for defending democracy under such circumstances. Yet, thanks to the resolve of the Turkish state acting in unity with its people, the heinous coup attempt was foiled and the democratic regime of Turkey was saved at the cliff edge.
Turkey, as a founding member of the Council of Europe, bastion of democratic universal values and norms, along with human rights and the rule of law, and as a negotiating candidate country for the EU, has thankfully all the assets and maturity to resist such tragic ordeals. Yes, the Turkish democracy won a battle that night. Yet, there is also the war to win to fully finish this painful episode of our life.
We have kept telling our friends, partners and allies for long, about Fethullah Gülen and his ominous aims as manifested on the 15 July. Despite all counter efforts, his followers have over the years clandestinely infiltrated into state organs, not to mention their presence in private sector and media. The foiled terrorist coup attempt has left, hopefully, no doubt about them.
Given the severity of the situation as unfolded on July 15, the Turkish state had to take required measures for its public order and security. Naturally, this has been done as prescribed by the constitution and relevant laws and in full observance of our international obligations.
The purpose of the declaration of the state of emergency is neither to restrict fundamental rights and freedoms of our citizens, nor to compromise democracy or the rule of law. It serves to act in the most speedy and effective manner in the fight against the FETÖ terrorist organization and return to normalcy as soon as possible.
In full observance of our obligations, we also informed the Council of Europe that measures taken in this process may involve derogation from the obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). Derogation is not suspension as some claimed.
Many members of the Council of Europe, most recently France, have also made use of this right as permitted by the ECHR. This provision allows states to take necessary measures without delay for the protection of human rights in cases of emergency threatening the life of the nation. Although the state of emergency has been declared for a period of 90 days, we aim to end it as soon as the fight against the FETÖ terrorist organization is successfully attained.
As clearly evident in our steps so far, our measures are not driven by political revanchism but taken in conformity with our constitution and legislation as well as our international obligations. Naturally, during the state of emergency, judicial remedies are available, against these measures including the right of individual application to the Constitutional Court, not to mention the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).
Since the AK party came to power in 2002, Turkish legislation pertaining to democracy, human rights and the rule of law has continued to be firmly aligned with the norms and standards of the Council of Europe and the case law of the ECtHR. Several reform packages have been enacted in these domains. Upholding the rule of law by promoting and protecting human rights has always been on the top of our political agenda.
Turkey's zero tolerance policy against torture and ill-treatment has long been acclaimed as our legislation and regulatory framework in this respect was praised as exemplary by such international mechanisms already in 2004. Turkey continues its close cooperation with all international human rights mechanisms and is one of the rare countries that issued a standing invitation to the U.N. human rights bodies to visit Turkey since 2001.
All this foregoing bears testimony to the resolve of the Turkish state to bring this painful episode to an immediate end through its democracy and the rule of law showing due respect to human rights, contrary to certain allegations stemming from the defamation campaign of the FETÖ followers abroad. Indeed, there could be no other option for a democratic country. Since the night of July 15, the Turkish people coming from all segments of life, regardless of who they support politically, continue to gather in cities' squares to show their attachment to democracy.
The political parties in the parliament do the same in defending together our democratic values and our constitutional order, consolidating the democratic cohabitation against the waves of polarization in political circles. This gives us further hope and confidence in our fight against the enemies of our democracy.
The civilized world faces ever-increasing challenges against its democratic universal values. Extremism spreads in all violent forms, terrorism being the most vicious. While resolutely fighting the PKK and Daesh (ISIS), Turkey has now also managed to endure a terrorist military coup against its democracy. Yet, our fight is being kept strictly in line with democratic rules. Thus, hasty conclusions should be avoided on our fight against FETÖ.
In this context, it is also unfortunate that the Turks and friends of Turkey living in some European countries faced serious difficulties, under certain pretexts, in holding anti-coup rallies to show support to the Turkish democracy. As Turkey goes through this period, what we expect from our friends abroad is solidarity and understanding. For this, we certainly keep all channels open as always for constructive dialogue.
Mevlüt Çavusoğlu is the Foreign Minister of the Republic of Turkey