By Emin Avundukluoglu
Turkey’s president said Sunday that the country’s ongoing state of emergency will not be lifted until Turkey achieves peace and welfare.
At a congress of the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party set to return him to the party helm, Recep Tayyip Erdogan cited the casualties from last July's coup attempt by the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO).
"In my country, they tried to overthrow the state, and we gave 249 martyrs, and had 2,193 injured," said Erdogan. "How dare you ask us to lift the state of emergency?"
He stressed: "It will not be lifted. Until when? Until our situation reaches welfare and peace."
On April 18, parliament extended Turkey's ongoing state of emergency for another three months.
After the deadly coup attempt last July 15, Turkey declared a state of emergency on July 20.
Under the Constitution, a state of emergency can be declared for a maximum six-month period, but can also be extended.
To enact the state of emergency, the government must see serious indications of widespread violence that could interfere with Turkey's democratic environment or its citizens' basic rights and freedoms as established by the Constitution.
Erdogan said that Turkey and the Turkish nation can no longer tolerate any more FETO attempts at treason, also warning, "If the fight [against FETO] can’t be waged as powerfully as needed, our country will face much graver danger."
"For this reason, I invite everyone to support this fight even it affects your relatives," he said. "The fight against FETO should be conducted with methods which are deserving of our nation's self-sacrifice and will not harm the public conscience."
Ankara has said FETO is also behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police and judiciary, and has also accused it of infiltrating other countries through educational and other institutions.
Erdogan also blasted the EU’s treatment of Turkey amid strained ties, especially over a promise of visa-free travel for Turkish citizens in the Schengen zone as well as 3 billion euros to help Syrian refugees in Turkey.
"We should no longer tolerate the EU's duplicity, which came to the point of offending the honor of our country and nation," said Erdogan.
He added: "Either the EU keeps its promises to us, grants free movement [in the Schengen zone], sends the aid which they committed for refugees, and lift the blocks on opening and closing [accession] chapters, or let’s all go our own way."
Erdogan added that despite everything, Turkey would prefer to continue with the EU, saying, "It’s up to the EU."
Turkey applied for EU membership in 1987 and accession talks began in 2005.
Negotiations hit a stalemate in 2007 over the Cyprus issue. The German and French governments also opposed the country’s full EU membership.
To gain membership, Turkey has to successfully conclude negotiations with the EU in 35 policy chapters that involve reforms and the adoption of European standards.
In March 2016 Turkey and the EU signed a refugee deal which aimed to discourage irregular migration through the Aegean Sea by taking stricter measures against human traffickers and improving the conditions of nearly 3 million Syrian refugees in Turkey.
That deal also allowed for the acceleration of Turkey’s EU membership bid and visa-free travel for Turkish nationals within the EU’s Schengen zone.
In a November 2015 joint statement, the EU and Turkey confirmed their commitment to re-energize Ankara’s accession process.
However, the European Parliament later approved a non-binding motion to freeze Turkey’s membership talks in response to its post-coup probe and counter-terrorism measures against the PKK and FETO.Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.