Turkey has never been as united as it has become after the failed military coup, that was the overwhelming message from Turkish delegates who took part in a cross-party debate regarding the recent events.
Speaking at the Yunus Emre Turkish Cultural Centre on Wednesday, the five members of parliament spoke under Chatham House Rule where they could not be directly quoted.
The delegates stressed that all Turkish parties have now united against those who challenged the country’s democracy.
“Good has come out of this evil, a new political climate where all the political parties can talk to one another,” said one of the participants.
“It is Turkey’s constitutional right to respond to existential threats,” one of the MP explained, adding that lawmakers have agreed on a number of constitutional amendments which “cleanse” the judiciary, military or civil services of “infiltration”, namely by the Gulen movement, and restore confidence in the system again. The coup, he explained, helped provide the consensus needed to amend the constitution.
- Talip Küçükcan, AK Party
- Osman Aşkın Bak, AK Party
- Azmi Ekinci, AK Party
- Mevlüt Dudu, Republican People’s Party (CHP)
- Mehmet Günal, Nationalist Movement Party (MHP)
The mass arrests ordered by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan were “only temporary”, one of the panellists said, and many of those arrested, particularly the hundreds of conscripts, have now been released or allowed to return to their old posts.
“You cannot criminalise Gulen movement sympathisers but you have to criminalise active attempts to recruit,” one MP explained.
Prior to the coup attempt, threats of an imminent coup were made known to parliamentarians but were “laughed off” as not evident enough, the panellists explained, while many did not openly discuss the threat for fear of losing their jobs.
“There needs to be a balanced assessment of Turkey,” one of the MPs stressed; the country must be allowed the space to take the measures necessary to protect itself, one such step is the current state of emergency which has been declared across the country.
“We expect our western allies to stand with us,” one MP said, blasting European politicians for not showing solidarity with their ally by visiting the country since the coup. Calling out the hypocrisy of western reactions to European tragedies such as in Paris, Nice or Belgium, the MPs called on western journalists and media outlets to report on Turkey’s recent tragedies in the same way they would in Europe.
They criticised Western governments for often raising concerns over Turkey’s socio-political policies or human rights abuses but remaining silent when “Turkey’s democracy is threatened”.