July 21, 2016 / 12:52 AM / a year ago

Germany urges swift end to state of emergency in Turkey

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said Thursday Turkey’s crackdown on academics after a failed military coup did not appear to be in line with the country’s laws, and urged Ankara to end a state of emergency as quickly as possible.

“Revoking the teaching credentials of university professors and preventing researchers from leaving the country - those are all measures that I cannot imagine are in accordance with the rule of law, and, more importantly, with the current laws in Turkey,” Steinmeier told reporters.

“We continue to expect that Turkey will adhere to the rule of law and that it will lift the state of emergency after three months as planned,” he said. “Everything else would exacerbate tensions inside Turkey and harm Turkey itself.”

Steinmeier’s comments came ahead of a meeting Thursday of about 30 foreign and defense ministers at the State Department for an update on the U.S.-led fight against Islamic State militants.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday imposed the first nationwide state of emergency since the 1980s, but his officials insisted there would be no return to the deep repression of the past.

Steinmeier had issued a statement late on Wednesday in response to the declaration of emergency rule, urging the Turkish government to maintain both the rule of law and a sense of proportionality in its response to the coup attempt.

Early on Thursday, Steinmeier told reporters he could not say if Turkey’s state of emergency was an appropriate response to the attempted coup, since Germany had no independent data about how ingrained the coup supporters were in Turkish society.

Germany had seen the brutality of coup supporters in video footage over the weekend but still urged Turkey to exercise restraint in its response, he said.

“Only provable involvement in illegal acts, not suspected political leanings, should trigger governmental action,” Steinmeier said in a statement on Wednesday.

“It’s also critical that the declaration of emergency be restricted to only the necessary duration and then be ended as quickly as possible,” he said.

Steinmeier said such an approach was in Turkey’s interest, since anything else would tear the country apart and weaken Turkey both internally and externally.

He discouraged Turkish authorities from fixating on theories that the coup was instigated from overseas.

“Turkey should process this politically and judicially. It doesn’t help to blame dark powers overseas for what happened,” he said.

Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Tom Brown and Bernadette Baum

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