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Turkish foreign minister admits mistakes in purge

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Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu admitted in Strasbourg on Wednesday that mistakes have been made in the dismissal of public servants under a massive purge the government has been conducting since a failed coup in Turkey on July 15.

Speaking at the fall session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), Çavuşoğlu said 3,000 people who fell victim to the purge have so far been reinstated to their positions within the bureaucracy. In an attempt to underestimate the largest purge in the nation’s history, Çavuşoğlu said dismissed civil servants make up only 1.5 percent of the entire Turkish bureaucracy.

Defending the large-scale dismissals in the bureaucracy, Çavuşoğlu referred to German reunification and said that during that period, half a million people were dismissed from their jobs in East Germany on suspicion of espionage.

In response to a question from Dutch deputy Tiny Kox on the purge and the imprisonment of journalists, Çavuşoğlu argued that within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs only 500 people linked to the Gülen movement have been detected. The government calls the Gülen movement “FETÖ” in attempt to label it as terrorist, and as such, Çavuşoğlu called the dismissed diplomats “terrorists” in his speech.

In the face of difficult questions from members of parliament in Strasbourg, Çavuşoğlu argued that 80 percent of the people support the state of emergency in Turkey, adding that the government would terminate it once it is convinced that the “threat” is over.

Meanwhile, PACE President Pedro Agramunt emphasized the rule of law in his opening remarks.

While trying to defend the argument behind the government’s desire to reintroduce the death penalty, Çavuşoğlu said that following the failed coup, many people, including his wife, wanted the reintroduction of capital punishment in Turkey. The foreign minister stated that he is personally against the death penalty but said it would take time to explain this to the people of Turkey.

Turkey abolished capital punishment as part of European Union reforms under the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government.

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