VALETTA - Agence France-Presse
NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg warned Turkey on April 27 that it must fully respect legal due process, as Ankara
continues to make mass arrests after the July 2016 failed coup attempt.
“Turkey has the right to protect itself and to prosecute those who were behind the failed coup attempt but that has to take place based on the full respect of the rule of law,” Stoltenberg said as he arrived for an EU defense ministers meeting in Valletta.
“I attach a great importance to these values myself and this is an issue we have discussed with the Turkish leadership,” he added.
Turkey on April 26 detained more than 1,000 people and suspended over 9,000 police in sweeping new arrests against alleged supporters of Fethullah Gülen, the U.S.-based Islamic preacher accused of mounting the coup.
Erdoğan earlier this month narrowly won the April 16 referendum on constitutional amendments, including a shift to an executive presidency, sparking increased concerns in Europe
over the country’s rights record.
At the same time, Turkey is a crucial NATO
ally, sitting at a strategic crossroads and providing the U.S.-led alliance with its second biggest military component after the United States.
“Turkey is a key ally for many reasons, especially for its strategic geographic location bordering Iraq, Syria and all the violence, the turmoil we see to the south but [it is] also close to Russia
and the Black Sea,” Stoltenberg noted.
secretary general, a former Norwegian prime minister, said he looked forward to an alliance summit in May in Brussels where all 28 member state leaders will be able to “discuss our common challenges.”