The Turkish government is carrying out a purge. Almost 20,000 members of the Turkish police, judiciary, civil service, and army (including a third of all generals and admirals) have been arrested or dismissed from their positions in the last few days.
The EU Commission believes the scale and speed of the purge suggests the government was keeping a list of suspected ideological opponents, and may be using the recent failed coup attempt to consolidate power. Disturbing images have been released showing soldiers stripped to ther underwear and handcuffed en mass in a gymnasium.
On 15 July 2016, a group within the military instigated a botched coup, leading to the death of over 200 people. President Erdogan was on holiday at the time, but flew back to Istanbul and called for his supporters to take to the streets, thwarting the efforts of the plotters. Turkey has suffered a series of coups historically, with the last full military takeover happening in 1980, and a “coup by memorandum” as recently as 1997.
Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan has now asked parliament to reinstate the death penalty (repealed in 2004 as part of Turkey’s EU accession bid), saying: “[T]hese terrorists should be killed… Why should I keep them and feed them in prisons for years to come?”
Want to know more about Turkey’s bid for EU membership? Check out our infobox on arguments for and against Turkey joining the European Union.
European governments are watching developments in Turkey with concern, as the country is a NATO member and key ally in the region, vital for Western strategy in both combating the refugee crisis and in the fight against the so-called Islamic State.
How should Europe respond to Turkey’s post-coup crackdown? Is Erdogan going too far, or is the round-up of perceived government adversaries legitimate? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!