Turkey's President says the country's armed forces will quickly be restructured to bring in 'fresh blood'
Turkey is more 'vigilant' to the threat of a fresh coup attempt after last week's failed bid to overthrow the democratically elected government, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in an interview on Thursday.
Erdogan said the military was being restructured to bring in 'fresh blood' and conceded that there were significant gaps in intelligence ahead of Friday's coup attempt by a faction of the armed forces.
He revealed that the Supreme Military Council (YAS) meeting will be brought forward by a week to speed up military restructuring process during the three-month state of emergency. The Council is chaired by the prime minister, and includes the defence minister and the chief of staff.
"They are all working together as to what might be done, and ... within a very short amount of time a new structure will be emerging. With this new structure, I believe the armed forces will get fresh blood," Erdogan told Reuters in his first interview since the government announced a state of emergency throughout the country.
"After all that has come to pass, I think they must now have drawn very important lessons. This is an ongoing process, we will never stop, we will continue very actively, we have plans."
A state of emergency gives broad powers to the executive, allowing the Turkish president and his Council of Ministers to rule by decree, and increases the jurisdiction of governors.
Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus told journalists that the government did not plan a civil rights crackdown.
The Turkish constitution provides that a state of emergency can last six months -- and be either lifted or extended by repeated four-month periods by parliament.
Kurtulmus then assured media that "we want to end state of emergency as soon as possible.
"If conditions return to normal, we think it will take one or one and half month period at the maximum," he said. "I hope there will be no need for further extension."
Turkey previously lifted its last state of emergency in 2002.
It had been imposed in 1987 in provinces in the southeast for the fight against Kurdish militants.
US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen is accused of masterminding the attempted coup, which crumbled early on Saturday, and the actions of the Turkish government following the declaration of the state of emergency were designed to crack down on the perpetrators, Erdogan said.
The Gulen movement would be treated as "another separatist terrorist organisation," he added.
"We will continue the fight ... wherever they might be. These people have infiltrated the state organisation in this country and they rebelled against the state," he said, calling the actions of Friday night "inhuman" and "immoral".
Erdogan said the designs of the Gulen movement were now out in the open.
"We never considered even the possibility that they might be involved in this kind of a treason ... We supported them to the fullest as citizens of our country," he said.
"They are traitors ... They have always been two-faced, if you want, and now we see their real face very clearly."
Staged coup accusations 'indecent'
When asked to comment on accusations that the coup may have been staged, Erdogan said it was 'indecent' to imply that his government had any advance knowledge of the plot.
"I mean, do you have people saying that 9/11 was orchestrated by the United States?, or, can we attribute the latest incident in France to President (Francois) Hollande's Administration?, No, you don't have people saying that," he said.
"Why do people think, or, opt for this method if you will for this incident, this attempt, this attempted coup was against the nation, why? because the Grand National Assembly of Turkey was bombarded, it was against the nation that this was done, and they did not stop there, they bombarded the Parliament, and they also bombarded this very Presidential complex."
The coup plotters used fighters jets, military helicopters and tanks to strike government institutions including parliament, the intelligence agency and the presidential palace in Friday's violence in Istanbul and Ankara.
The president said the death toll had risen to 246 people excluding the coup plotters and that 2,185 people were wounded.
On Thursday, Turkey's parliament formally approved the state of emergency put in place by the government, with a vote of 346 to 115 to endorse new measures taken in wake of the attempted coup.
"This state of emergency is not a curfew. People will still be on the street minding their own business and getting on with daily life," Erdogan said, while adding that there was no obstacle to extending the state of emergency beyond the initial three months if necessary.