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Saturday 18 January 2020

Turkey protests over Germany's barring of Erdogan address

Turkish people participate in a demonstration in Cologne, Germany (AP)
Turkish people participate in a demonstration in Cologne, Germany (AP)

Turkey has criticised a German court decision that prevented President Recep Tayyip Erdogan from addressing a demonstration in Germany denouncing Turkey's failed coup.

The German embassy's charge d'affaires has been summoned to the ministry to discuss the issue, an official said, as the attempted coup on July 15 continues to strain Turkey's relations with allies.

Ankara has accused European nations of not standing firmly in solidarity with Turkey against the coup bid that it says was masterminded by US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, and has accused the United States of harbouring him. Mr Gulen denies any knowledge of the attempt to overthrow the government.

Thousands rallied in the German city of Cologne on Sunday to denounce the abortive coup and show support for Mr Erdogan.

A regional court ruled, however, that no messages from speakers elsewhere - such as politicians in Turkey - could be shown on a video screen at the rally.

Speaking after a cabinet meeting, deputy prime minister Numan Kurtulmus said the German move was contrary to freedom of speech.

Mr Kurtulmus said German courts normally address cases very slowly, "yet the German Constitutional Court prohibited our president addressing the rally via teleconference in less than 24 hours. This is a clear double standard".

Later on Sunday, organisers read a message from Mr Erdogan thanking people with Turkish roots in Germany for their moral support during the coup attempt, the German news agency dpa reported.

German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said ahead of the rally that there is "no place in Germany" for anyone to "bring domestic political tensions from Turkey to us in Germany".

The cabinet meeting in Turkey was held a day after a government decree introduced sweeping changes to the military aimed at bringing the armed forces further under civilian authority.

The decree, the third issued under a three-month state of emergency declared after the attempted coup, gives the president and prime minister the authority to issue direct orders to the commanders of the army, air force and navy.

It also announces the discharge of 1,389 military personnel, including Mr Erdogan's chief military aide.

Mr Kurtulmus said the changes would prevent military powers being accumulated "under a single hand".

He also announced plans to switch Turkey's largely conscript army towards a force "made up of experts who are totally focused on the defence of the nation".

The aim is to "create such a system, such an armed force that no-one within it will ever think about staging a coup", Mr Kurtulmus said.

Authorities have captured two more people suspected of being part of a group of soldiers who had raided Mr Erdogan's seaside hotel in the town of Marmaris during the failed coup, bringing the number of suspects caught in the operation to 11. One suspect is still on the run.

Mr Erdogan had been on holiday during the July 15 coup. The soldiers raided his hotel in an attempt to capture or kill the president but are believed to have missed him by an hour or less.


PA Media

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