Turkey is acting according to international human rights conventions in its measures against the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told the European lawmakers on Wednesday.
“To clear elements of the Fetullah Terrorist Organization from where they infiltrated, notably in public institutions, we should do whatever is needed,” he told the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in Strasbourg.
“We are acting in accordance with the principles of a law-abiding state. We act in accordance with the European Convention on Human Rights and international responsibilities.”
Later, following a meeting with PACE President Pedro Agramunt, Cavusoglu said Turkey would consider the Council of Europe’s recommendations in the wake of the July 15 coup attempt, for which Ankara holds FETO responsible.
Referring to Turkey’s state of emergency, which was extended by three months this week, he said: “We had to prolong the state of emergency since the situation was too complicated. We have to make sure such a coup attempt never happens again.
“We continue to cooperate with the Council of Europe during the process. We are informing them about our legislative regulations. The process [of taking action against FETO] runs [in accordance] with the Council of Europe [standards] and basic values.
“The state of emergency will be lifted once the situation has normalized.”
More than 240 people were martyred and around 2,200 others injured when a section of the armed forces tried to overthrow the government. Turkey has accused FETO, led by U.S.-based Fetullah Gulen, of organizing a long-running campaign to topple the state through the infiltration of institutions such as the military, police and judiciary.
Earlier Wednesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said 3,456 FETO-linked judges, prosecutors and top jurists had been dismissed to date following the bid, while 198 judges and prosecutors were reinstated.
Regarding the EU-Turkey refugee deal, which, as well as allowing for the return of “irregular” migrants promises visa liberalization for Turkish nationals in Europe and the speeding up of Turkey’s EU bid, Cavusoglu expressed frustration at the slow pace of progress.
“We should either apply or suspend three of them at the same time,” he said.
Turkey has spent $12 billion on refugees against $535 million spent by the international community on aid, Cavusoglu said, adding that there were plans to build 10,000 houses for refugees.
The government is also working on a scheme to provide schooling the 500,000 Syrian children in Turkey currently out of education.
Signed on March 18, the EU-Turkey refugee deal aims to discourage irregular migration via the Aegean Sea by taking stricter measures against human traffickers and improving the conditions of nearly 3 million Syrian refugees in Turkey.
It also allows for the acceleration of Turkey’s EU membership bid and visa-free travel for Turkish nationals within the Schengen area, on the condition that Ankara meets 72 requirements set by the EU. Turkey has met most of the requirements but the EU’s demand for changes to anti-terrorism law has led to a deadlock.
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