EU leaders fear repression, strained relations after Turkey’s attempted coup

People react near a military vehicle during an attempted coup in Ankara, Turkey, July 16, 2016. © Tumay Berkin
European Council President Donald Tusk, as well as the leaders of Germany and France, urged Ankara to deal with the organizers of the failed coup in line with the rule of law, fearing that repression may harm already strained relations between the EU and Turkey.

Arrests after coup attempt in Turkey LIVE UPDATES

The European Union has given its full support to Turkey's elected government following the attempted coup in the country, with European Council president Donald Tusk, European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker and EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini calling for “a swift return to Turkey's constitutional order” in a joint statement.

However, officials in Brussels don’t rule out that the failed coup may still have a negative effect on its relations with Ankara and affect the long-lasting talks on Turkey eventually becoming an EU member.

“The key question will be what kind of Turkey emerges from this crisis… it would be crucial not only for Turkey, but the whole region and of course EU-Turkey relations,” Tusk told the media at the Asia-Europe summit in Mongolia.

"The tensions in and challenges for Turkey can’t be solved with guns," he said.

It’s “too early to speculate” on the potential consequences of the coup attempt, the European Council head said, adding that "our hope and intention is of course to keep Turkey as a key partner."

“Military coups have no place in modern Turkey. There is no alternative to democracy and the rule of law,” Tusk was cited as saying by AFP.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that the handling “of those responsible for the tragic events of last night can and should only be handled according to the rule of law.”

“Democracy, which respects everybody's rights and protects minorities, is the best foundation (for the rule of law)," Merkel said, according to France 24 television.

French President Francois Hollande said he expects a period of repression in Turkey in response to an attempted government overthrow.

"Now we shall see what the situation is in Turkey. If its president has completely regained control, which I think is the case, we shall have a period of considerable calm, but there will probably be repression," Hollande was cited as saying by Reuters.

"I can imagine that a certain number of military will have to answer for what they did or what they didn't do," he said.

READ MORE: 188 arrest warrants issued for members of Turkey’s supreme courts

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan promised that, those behind the coup “will pay a heavy price for this act of treason," with Ankara currently considering the return of the death penalty.
There’s “little chance” that Turkey will be granted a membership in the EU in “at least for the next few years,” Talat Masood, retired three-star general of the Pakistani army, told RT.
“There’s been a lot of resistance against Turkey joining the EU. And with this sort of a coup taking place, I think this that those forces, which were opposed to Turkey, will harden further,” he said.

Despite the coup turning out to be a failure, the force in the EU that oppose Turkish membership will still “use that excuse that Turkey isn’t a stable democracy,” Masood said.

Relations with Turkey have become crucial for the EU after the signing of a migrant deal earlier in March.

READ MORE: 'Gift from God': Erdogan sees coup as ‘chance to cleanse military’ while PM mulls death penalty

According to the deal, Ankara agreed to take back all illegal refugees from Greece and allow a certain number of asylum seekers to travel to the EU legally.

While Brussels pledged to pay €6 billion, grant visa-free travel to Turkish nationals and speed up EU accession talks with Ankara.

However, the visa-free travel negotiations stalled due to Turkey refusing to fulfil all of the European condition for the move, with country’s’ anti-terror laws causing the most concerns.

At least 265 people have been killed, including 104 pro-coup participants, while 1,440 people were injured in military action in Turkey’s capital, Ankara, and the country’s largest city, Istanbul.

READ MORE: Over 2,800 arrested, 265 killed, 1,440 injured in Turkish coup attempt

A faction of the Turkish military attempted to overthrow the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday night, employing tanks and attack helicopters.
The conspiracy failed, as the organizers of the coup were unable to gain wide support from the military or population and didn’t manage to capture any high-ranking officials.