17:33 GMT +317 March 2018
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    Supporters of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan shout slogans on the back of a truck during a pro-government demonstration on Taksim square in Istanbul, Turkey, July 16, 2016.

    Turks' Uprising Against Failed Coup Offers 'Chance for Reconciliation'

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    Analyst Kemal Kirisci believes Turkey's attempted military coup is a chance for the country to reconcile its divisions; Turkish politician Ahmet Berat Conkar told Sputnik that a purge of Fethullah Gulen supporters is justified in the light of popular support for the Turkish government.

    While Western politicians have raised concerns about the Turkish government's reaction to the failed military coup on Friday, politicians in Turkey retort that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is carrying out the will of the people by strengthening his government's hold on state institutions in its aftermath.

    The coup was put down on Saturday amid violence between government supporters and factions within the military on the streets of Turkey, leaving at least 232 people dead. 

    Around 50,000 soldiers, police, judges, civil servants and teachers have been suspended or detained; they are accused of having supported the coup attempt. The Turkish President has accused exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen, who leads the popular Hizmet movement from the US, of involvement in the coup.

    In an interview with Sputnik Turkey, Justice and Development Party (AKP) politician Ahmet Berat Conkar, co-chairman of the EU-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Committee, said that the government is justified in seeking out those who were involved in the coup attempt.

    "There is a part of that structure (Turkey's Gulen movement) which has revealed itself. But there are those who are still concealing themselves. But with each attempt, they reveal themselves more and more," Conkar said.

    "For a long time I denied that they (Gulenists) were present in the armed forces. But in the end it turned out that this structure is a lot bigger than we suspected. They organized themselves within the armed forces like a cancer, like a tumor," Conkar said.

    On Saturday, analyst Kemal Kirisci of the Brookings Institute wrote that "Turkish democracy survived a major test," by defeating the coup attempt, as other military takeovers have happened regularly in Turkey over the last century.

    However, Kirisci writes that Turkish democracy now faces another test – whether President Erdogan can reconcile the divisions in Turkish society which enabled the coup attempt.

    "Once again, the nation managed to break this pattern of ten-year coups. This offers the country a matchless opportunity for reconciliation," Kirisci wrote in The National Interest.

    President Erdogan "is correct in calling 'for their (the plotters) punishment under the full force of the law of the land,'" Kirisci wrote, but it will "now be critical that he ensure that the rule of law is upheld and rises to the challenge of winning hearts and minds across a deeply polarized nation."

    Kirisci believes that Erdogan must "rise above a majoritarian understanding of democracy" to fulfil the aspirations of the Turkish public, which heeded his call to protect the government from the coup by taking to the streets in protest.

    On Friday President Erdogan used FaceTime to call for Turks to take to the streets in support of the government, which was followed by several nights of demonstrations by thousands of supporters.

    ​The Turkish Foreign Ministry stated on Saturday that the coup was carried out by a minority "clique" in the army, and stressed that the government enjoys popular support.

    "The Turkish Armed Forces were not involved in the coup attempt in their entirety. It was conducted by a clique within the armed forces and received a well-deserved response from our nation," the Foreign Ministry said.


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