Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday announced a nationwide three-month state of emergency after Friday’s failed coup. Speaking at the presidential complex in Ankara after back-to-back National Security Council and Cabinet meetings, Erdogan said the three-month state of emergency was being declared under Article 120 of the Turkish Constitution, which states that in the event of serious, widespread acts of violence aimed at the destruction of the free democratic order, a state of emergency may be declared in one or more regions or throughout the country for a period not exceeding six months, the Anadolu state news agency reported.
“The purpose of the state of emergency is to most effectively and swiftly take steps necessary to eliminate the threat to democracy in our country, the rule of law, and the rights and freedom of our citizens,” Erdogan said.
The president said the move was aimed at “eliminating coup-plotter terrorist group,” which he insists is led by followers of US-based Muslim cleric Fetullah Gulen. Gulen has denounced the coup, saying he believed only in change through democratic means, but Turkey has demanded his extradition from the US nonetheless, citing incriminating documents associating him with the plot to unseat Erdogan.
At least 246 people, including members of the security forces and civilians, were killed during the failed coup, and more than 1,500 were wounded.
“Never be worried,” Erdogan told Turks Wednesday night. “There is nothing to worry about.” He said that “it is out of the question” for the armed forces to seize power. “Quite the reverse, the authority and will of the [civilian] leaders will grow more in this process,” he said, adding, “We never compromise on democracy, and we will not compromise.”
Erdogan blasted Standard & Poor’s downgrading of Turkey’s rating in the wake of the failed coup. “Why are you even interested in Turkey? We’re not part of you… Don’t ever try to mess with us,” he said.
Turkey’s lira fell to an all-time low after the S&P downgraded its debt, slumping to 3.0973 against the dollar, then falling another 1.5 percent to 3.0898 on Wednesday.
International rating agencies Fitch and Moody’s have so far kept Turkey’s investment-grade rating where it had been before the coup attempt, but both agencies are also considering a downgrade. Turkey’s current rating with Fitch is already a troubling BBB.
But Erdogan insisted that S&P’s assessment does not adequately reflect the Turkish economy, which grew 4.8 percent in the first quarter of 2016 compared with the same period last year. He vowed that Turkey will maintain fiscal discipline. “Turkey will continue its economic reforms without any interruption… There is no liquidity problem,” he said.
Prime Minister Binali Yildirim tweeted: “This [state of emergency] decision is not for the daily life of our people, but rather is for the proper and swift functioning of state mechanisms.”
What those state mechanisms may be was left up to the Twitter followers’ imagination.
Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus told reporters in Ankara: “The conditions of the state of emergency will only be used for fighting the parallel structure.” The term is part of Erdogan’s accusations of his arch-rival Gulen, whom he says is running a “parallel state” inside Turkey’s state institutions and media that poses a threat to his rule.
A National Security Council and Cabinet statement said, “Our body has once again confirmed its commitment to democracy, fundamental rights and freedoms, and the rule of law. The steps to be taken afterward were also discussed.” The statement added that the state of emergency was declared in order to implement measures to protect “citizens’ rights and freedoms, our democracy, and the rule of law.”