France rattles Turkey with 'different' state of emergency comments

France rattles Turkey with 'different' state of emergency comments
Turkish foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu seemed to be rattled by comments from his French counterpart on Monday, suggesting Ankara should abide by rule of law post-coup.
2 min read
25 October, 2016
French diplomat was on the first official visit to Turkey since the failed coup [AFP]

France’s foreign minister backed Turkey’s post-coup state of emergency but rankled the way in which Ankara implemented it, during an official visit to the country on Monday.

Jean-Marc Ayrault criticised Turkish authorities for their unprecedented crackdown after the military coup attempt against Erdogan that took place in July.

"Regarding the state of emergency, Turkey has every right to defend and protect itself. It is (Ankara's) decision to extend the state of emergency as we also have extended ours," Ayrault said at a press conference with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu in Ankara.

"The only thing we can repeat is our commitment to the rule of law, our commitment to fundamental freedoms," said Ayrault, the highest-ranking French official to visit Turkey since the July coup bid.

The French diplomat appeared to rattle Cavusoglu when he said there was a difference between the states of emergency in Turkey and in France - which imposed its measures in the wake of the November 2015 terror attacks in Paris.

"In France, the state of emergency does not allow for the transfer of legislative power to the executive. Parliament retains all powers of law-making and the independence of the judiciary is guaranteed fully," Ayrault said.

But Turkey’s Cavusoglu hit back, insisting "for us, there is no difference between Turkey's state of emergency and France's state of emergency. Their scope and objectives are the same: targeting terrorist organisations."

Despite the response, Ayrault maintained his position even after meeting with Erdogan and Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim later.

"Everyone knows that this is not the same thing... There are differences and I simply repeated them. It is a fact," the minister said at Ankara airport before leaving for Greece.

Despite the disagreement, Ayrault said Turkey was an important country with whom France had a "strategic partnership" and friendship which meant they could discuss "difficulties and disagreements".

Turkey's Western allies have voiced concern over the clampdown of thousands by the authorities and urged Ankara to abide by the rule of law.

Tens of thousands of people working in the judiciary, media, education and military have been detained, suspended or sacked for suspected links to the movement of the Islamic preacher accused of ordering the July 15 failed putsch.

In July, Ayrault had warned Erdogan not to use the failed coup as a "blank cheque" to silence his opponents, to which the Turkish president told him to "mind his own business".

Ankara initially imposed a three-month state of emergency after the coup bid and extended it for another 12 weeks earlier this month to tackle what it describes as an extraordinary threat.