ANKARA • Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared a three-month state of emergency that gives the state extra powers to pass laws as the authorities pursue individuals suspected of attempting to topple his government.
The declaration on Wednesday followed the firing and suspension of tens of thousands of soldiers, educators and civil servants in recent days on suspicion of complicity in the failed coup last week.
In a televised address on Wednesday evening, Mr Erdogan said the extra powers were needed to protect Turkey's democracy, and he criticised Western nations which have accused his government of overreaching in its efforts to root out opponents. "The aim is to rapidly and effectively take all steps needed to eliminate the threat against democracy, the rule of law and the people's rights and freedoms," Mr Erdogan said.
"This measure is in no way against democracy, the law and freedoms," he added. "On the contrary, it aims to protect and strengthen them."
Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said yesterday that Turkey will follow France's example in temporarily suspending the European Convention on Human Rights following its declaration of a state of emergency, according to broadcaster NTV.
Mr Kurtulmus also said Turkey's state of emergency could end within one to one-and-a-half months.
He identified "structural and individual" intelligence failures during the coup attempt and also said that work was under way to restructure the army, NTV reported.
AIM TO PROTECT DEMOCRACY
This measure is in no way against democracy, the law and freedoms. On the contrary, it aims to protect and strengthen them.
TURKISH PRESIDENT RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN
The moves come as a response to the revolt over the weekend, when renegade military units captured a number of officials and attacked the Turkish Parliament and other government buildings before encountering resistance from army and police forces, as well as from Turkish citizens.
More than 250 people were killed before the rebellion was put down. Some European leaders and human rights groups have criticised the government's subsequent purge of state institutions, as well as calls by many Turks to reinstitute the death penalty to punish those involved in the coup.
"Europe does not have the right to criticise this decision," Mr Erdogan said during his address, noting that some European countries had taken extraordinary measures after terrorist attacks within their own borders.
Earlier on Wednesday, Mr Erdogan said in a television interview that he suspected foreign countries might have been involved in the failed coup, although he declined to say which governments may have wanted him out of power.
Meanwhile, eight Turkish military officers, who fled to Greece after last week's failed coup, were found guilty of illegal entry by a local court in the northern city of Alexandroupolis, where they landed on Saturday in a Turkish military helicopter. They have been sentenced to two months in prison.
To block their deportation to Turkey, they have applied for asylum in Greece. Turkey's ambassador has warned that failure to return the officers "will not help" ties.
"I hope we will manage to swiftly go through the phases of due process and manage to return these terrorist elements so that they will face justice," Mr Kerim Uras told reporters in Athens on Tuesday.
NEW YORK TIMES, REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE