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Turkey will not deviate from democracy despite failed coup attempt: ambassador

All News 18:22 July 26, 2016

By Park Boram

SEOUL, July 26 (Yonhap) -- Turkey will not deviate from democracy and free market economy, the country's top envoy to South Korea said Tuesday as the Eurasian country is seen by some as engaging in an iron-fisted crackdown to root out plotters of a thwarted coup attempt earlier this month.

"We will remain good friends with everybody. We are not going to deviate from the European Union, we are not going to deviate from democracy and we are not going to deviate from the free market economy," Amb. Arslan Hakan Okcal said in an hour-long press conference held in the Turkish Embassy in central Seoul. "We want to develop and we want to bring what's available in the world to our people."

The conference was called as Turkey is coping with the aftermath of the coup attempt to topple the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on July 15, which was immediately brought down.

Last week, President Erdogan declared a three-month state of emergency, allowing the government's expanded power to interrogate, search and arrest its people. Thousands of Turkish people have been arrested so far in connection with the coup.

The country is also considering the option of reinstating capital punishment, which it had abolished in 2004, triggering wild objection from other EU members.

The series of tough measures Turkey took in the coup's aftermath, in return, has drawn concerns from the international community.

"We have lived up to our responsibilities as a G-20 member, a good member of the EU council and a good member of the OECD and NATO," the ambassador said, highlighting Turkey's faithful compliance with global norms.

He underlined that the adoption of the state of emergency, however, was a "legal measure" approved by the parliament under its constitution.

"We need some swift actions and only the state of emergency will give us the tools and ability" to deal with coup plotters, he said, adding that there's a unanimous view that the coup was masterminded by the president's rival Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish preacher in exile in the United States.

"We hope that we will finish (the state of emergency) even in a shorter period time than the three months."

He added there are Gulen has affiliated organizations in every country including South Korea, but refused to discuss details of the South Korean branch, citing sensitivity of the matter.

The top envoy also made clear that Turkey will not heed some EU members' objections to Ankara's option to reinstate capital punishment.

"The statements that are especially coming from the EU authorities are counter-productive. We are not going to let anybody to try to teach what democracy is," Okcal said. "Turkey is not a country that you can bully."

The ambassador assured that Turkey is safe to travel now, "encouraging Koreans to travel Turkey.

"I am not going to guarantee that this will not happen again ... but we are doing our best to protect people and our guests in Turkey," he said.

South Korea's foreign ministry is set to adjust the travel alert it issued for Turkey after the coup, back down to the normal level later in the week, Okcal said.

"Turkey and Korea are really good partners ... Korea's foreign ministry came with very supportive declaration against the coup in favor of our democratic establishment," he said, stressing "We welcome that."


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