London, July 18, 2016/Independent Balkan News Agency
By Thanasis Gavos
In her first four full days as UK Prime Minister Theresa May has had to convene the Cobra committee which determines the British government’s response to ongoing crises three times; once for the Nice attack and twice for the developments in Turkey following the failed coup d’ etat.
The latest of the Cobra meetings on Sunday confirmed that the situation in Turkey continued to stabilise, however there was still need “to maintain focus on the situation and monitor any developments over the coming days and weeks, including close cooperation and dialogue with the Turkish government.”
At the same time the Foreign Office eased its travel advice for Turkey, currently stating that the situation “appears to be calming.” But it warns UK nationals that “the security environment remains potentially volatile.”
The Foreign Office also advises Britons to remain vigilant and avoid public places in Ankara and Istanbul, while it highlights security operations to detain alleged perpetrators across the country, with reports of gunfire.
The concern with which London monitors the situation in Turkey is not restricted to the wellbeing of UK nationals. Politicians and commentators warn of the risk of President Erdogan overplaying his hand in the newly formed landscape, with worrying signs already in play with the “cleansing” of police, the army and the judiciary of the state’s “enemies”.
After being accused of demonstrating an increasingly autocratic contempt for democratic values, Recep Tayyip Erdogan is now presented by his loyal voters and his closest circle as a defender of democracy. The temptation of making the best possible use of such a “gift from God”, as himself declared, seems to be too hard to resist.
The Labour Party MP and Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry urged “everyone in Turkey” to show calm and restraint in the coming days and avoid any actions that would divide the country or damage its standing in the world. “There is no excuse on any side for violence or abuse of human rights, and we would urge all parties to engage with the international community to preserve peace and democracy, and resolve this situation,” said the shadow Foreign Secretary in a statement.
At the same time, the Financial Times warn in an editorial that while the government in Ankara has now declared victory, this is very far from being a victory for Turkish democracy: “The risk now is that Mr Erdogan — ever ready to see conspirators against him — will feel vindicated; and will win support for the drive to enhance his powers. He would do better to recognise that winning elections is not enough to preserve democracy; and show restraint.”
In a separate concern, the Daily Mail comments that Europe is braced for a fresh migrant surge following the failed coup in Turkey. “The turmoil means the EU’s £5 billion deal with Ankara to stop people crossing the Mediterranean is in doubt. Arrivals in Greece have fallen sharply since the decision to return all newcomers to Turkey. But the post-coup crackdown – with the possibility of executions – means migrants could argue it is no longer a safe country to be sent back to,” claims the British newspaper.