Erdogan pursues French ″assassination″ pundit | News | DW | 24.04.2017
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Turkish politics

Erdogan pursues French "assassination" pundit

A former French diplomat turned analyst has been accused by Turkey of "inciting" assassination bids against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Turkish state media say Philippe Moreau Defarges will face "legal consequences."

Defarges' suggestion made Saturday on French BFM television - for which he later apologized - resulted Monday in one of Erdogan's lawyers filing a formal complaint to Ankara prosecutors.

"There will either be a civil war or another scenario… his assassination," Defarges had said on Saturday, predicting what he termed a "catastrophe" through polarization in Turkey, given strengthened powers for Erdogan narrowly endorsed in Turkey's referendum on April 16 versus widespread Turkish disquiet.

Philippe Moreau Defarges (Institut français des relations internationales/E. Moysson)

Defarges' portrait on IFRI website

Erdogan's lawyer Huseyin Aydin was cited by Turkey's Anadolu news agency on Monday as saying that Defarges' remarks were not a simple expression of opinion but were "clearly instigating the crime in question."

Erdogan's spokesman Ibrahim Kalin told a press conference in Ankara that Defarges' comments would have "legal consequences."

'Sincere apologies'

Defarges, 74, a senior fellow at the French Institute of International Relations (IFRI) on Sunday offered his "sincere apologies," describing his televised remarks as "clumsy" and saying they "might have been wrongly interpreted."

Kalin replied that the apology was "not enough," adding that the issue "can not be taken lightly." It was a test to see how Europe would react, he added.

A senior Erdogan adviser Gulnur Aybet demanded that IFRI "terminate" Defarges' fellowship.

Narrow referendum outcome

Preliminary counts from the referendum showed Erdogan garnering a narrow 51.4-percent "yes" margin in his bid for sweeping extra powers.

The "no"-vote amounted to 48.59 percent.

On Sunday, pro-government columnist Abdulkadir Selvi wrote in the "Hurriyet" newspaper that those results should be an "early warning" for Erdogan's AKP party ahead of November 2019.

That is when presidential and parliamentary elections are scheduled simultaneously, and most of Turkey's constitutional changes are due to come into force.

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Referendum - Turkey at a crossroads

Street protests continue

Opposition parties, including Turkey's main opposition People's Republican Party (CHP), have filed petitions to annul the referendum counts, but last Wednesday Turkey's electoral commission rejected those bids, and Erdogan said such attempts were futile.

Brookings Institute analyst Kemal Kirisci said that Erdogan's AKP and its ally MHP together had lost 10 percent in votes on April 16 - compared with their combined tally in Turkey's November 2015 legislative elections.

"The alliance seems to have fallen short ... despite all the bravado that marked their language," Kirisci said, referring to Erdogan's pre-referendum campaigning.

Street protests continued on the weekend in Turkish cities against Erdogan's asserted victory. Arrest warrants were issued in Izmir against seven activists.

ipj/rc (AFP, AP)

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