Turkey’s NATO membership at stake, Kerry warns as crackdown continues

By Asbarez | Tuesday, 19 July 2016

ANKARA, WASHINGTON (Combined Sources)—Secretary of State John Kerry cautioned on Monday that Turkey’s membership in NATO could be jeopardized if it abandons democratic principles and the rule of law in a post-coup crackdown, the Washington Post reported.

“NATO also has a requirement with respect to democracy,” Kerry told reporters after European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini warned Turkey not to execute coup plotters. She noted that countries with the death penalty cannot join the European Union, as Turkey has sought to do, added the Washington Post.

Kerry said Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has repeatedly assured him that the government will respect democracy and the law.

Kerry warned that Nato will “measure” its actions. “Obviously a lot of people have been arrested and arrested very quickly,” Kerry said. “The level of vigilance and scrutiny is obviously going to be significant in the days ahead. Hopefully we can work in a constructive way that prevents a backsliding.”

After a coup attempt in Turkey failed early Saturday, the Turkish government initiated a crackdown of its military, law enforcement and sectors of the government as a result of which some 8.000 military and police personnel have been fired and more than 7,000 people have been arrested across the country.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has also hinted that Turkey might bring back capital punishment to punish those responsible for the coup, a move strictly criticized by the European Union, which excludes the death penalty in its charter.

The swift rounding up of judges and others after a failed coup in Turkey indicated the government had prepared a list beforehand, the EU commissioner dealing with Turkey’s membership bid, Johannes Hahn, said on Monday.

“It looks at least as if something has been prepared. The lists are available, which indicates it was prepared and to be used at a certain stage,” Hahn said. “I’m very concerned. It is exactly what we feared.”

The Turkish government was also quick to point the finger at the Fettulah Gulen, a one-time Erdogan ally who has been in a self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania. Turkish officials on Saturday asked the US to extradited Gulen, but State Department officials have said that the US has not received an official extradition oder.

Meanwhile, Gulen rejected the notion that he or his supporters staged the coup late Friday night, insinuating that Erdogan, himself, staged the coup in the country, in order to solidify his power in Turkey.