Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim expressed anger at the United States and European nations on Friday for refusing to allow events commemorating the one-year anniversary of the failed coup attempt against the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
“On one hand, you call yourself a ‘country of freedoms.’ You will constantly criticize Turkey over human rights and freedoms and on the other hand, you will ban activities aiming at creating awareness in the international community on the coup attempt that threatened the future of a country,” Yildirim fumed at a meeting with journalists, as reported by Hurriyet Daily News.
Yildirim announced at the same meeting that Turkey’s post-coup state of emergency would be extended after the current declaration expires on July 18. “Of course, it will be lifted one day when conditions are appropriate but talking about a specific date would be wrong. These are issues to discussed and decided at the National Security Council,” he said.
The one-year anniversary of the coup falls on Saturday, July 15. The Erdogan government is making a very big deal of the anniversary, with events scheduled across Turkey and everywhere in the world where Turkish emigres can be found.
One such event is to be held in Austria, but on Monday, the Austrian government barred Turkish Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci from entering the country to attend. Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz explained that Zeybekci’s visit would create “danger for public order and security in Austria.”
“We do not want the heated atmosphere that exists in Turkey after the coup attempt and the waves of purges that followed it to take place in Austria,” Kurz added.
Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern was even blunter. “The Turkish government and its president are trying to exert political influence in Austria,” he said. “We will not allow it.”
“The blocking of our economy minister’s planned visit shows that Austria is not sincere in its approach toward defending democratic values,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry shot back, using essentially the same formulation Prime Minister Yildirim employed in his Friday remarks.
The Netherlands similarly banned Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Tugrul Turkes from attending a ceremony to mark the anniversary of the coup, referring back to rallies among Turkish expatriates in March that created significant security issues. The Turkish Foreign Ministry’s response was the same, accusing the Netherlands of having a poor “understanding of democracy.”
President Erdogan himself chimed in to denounce the Netherlands as a “banana republic,” while Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu called it “the capital of fascism.”
Yildirim’s ire at the United States seems to have been prompted by a security warning to American citizens from the U.S. Embassy in Ankara to avoid coup commemorations. “Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence,” the embassy warned.
Turkish officials have also been taking the opportunity of the upcoming anniversary to express disappointment that both the current and previous American administrations did not offer more full-throated support for Erdogan against the coup plotters. Turkey’s ambassador to the United States, Serdar Kilic, said at a conference in Washington on Wednesday that it was outrageous for the Obama State Department to call on “both parties” to demonstrate restraint in the aftermath of the coup attempt.
“Both parties? One of them is the Turkish state and Turkish people who tried to defend their democracy, and the other is a terrorist organization. How can you expect the Turkish public not to be disappointed with this?” Kilic exclaimed.
Events planned in Turkey include commemorations of the “martyrs, who took to the streets for their homeland, freedom, liberty and democracy,” as an Erdogan spokesman put it, in every one of the nation’s 81 provinces. Erdogan is also supposed to launch a nationwide “democracy watch” event.
Not everyone in Turkey is on board with these coup events. The opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and People’s Democratic Party (HDP) announced on Friday that they would not attend the formal ceremony in parliament to commemorate the coup anniversary on Saturday. Opposition groups complain that Erdogan used the coup as an excuse to crack down on political dissent in general.