Agencies Istanbul, Turkey
Jul 18, 2016, 07.57 AM
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 today.
Following a failed coup attempt on Saturday, Turkish authorities on Sunday rounded up nearly 3,000 suspected military plotters, ranging from top commanders to foot soldiers, and the same number of judges and prosecutors.
"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," he added.
'Rule of law has to be protected'
Meanwhile, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said Monday that Turkey must protect the rule of law as it cracks down after the failed coup.
"We are the ones saying today rule of law has to be protected in the country. There is no excuse for any steps that take the country away from that," Mogherini said as European Union foreign ministers met in Brussels.
"As we have been the first ones to say that in that tragic night (of Friday's coup attempt), the democratic and legislative institutions needed to be protected," she told reporters.
"Today we will say together with ministers that obviously doesn't mean that rule of law and the system of checks and balances in the country does not count. On the contrary, it needs to be protected for the sake of the country.
"So we will send a strong message on that."
Turkey's attempts to join EU hobbled in recent years
Would-be EU member Turkey carried out fresh raids today as the EU ministers were meeting, prompting growing international concern over the scale of the crackdown.
Judges and military commanders are among 6,000 people who were arrested over the weekend as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vows to stamp out the "virus" of the coup plotters.
Turkey's attempts to join the 28-nation European Union have been hobbled in recent years by concern over the increasingly authoritarian Erdogan's record on human rights and press freedom.
But the EU agreed to speed up its membership bid and give visa-free travel to Turks as part of a migrant crisis deal in which Ankara agreed to take back people landing in the Greek islands.
France, Belgium urge restraint
French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault also insisted "the rule of law must prevail".
"France has condemned the coup, you can't accept the military taking power," he said. "At the same time we have to be vigilant that the Turkish authorities don't put in place a system which turns back democracy."
Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders also urged restraint, saying: "It's normal to punish those involved in the coup, but it's normal to ask for respect for the rule of law."