World Bulletin / News Desk
A senior British lawmaker on Tuesday described the “profound service to democracy around the world” performed by Turks who resisted the July 2016 coup attempt.
Crispin Blunt, chairman of the U.K. parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, hailed the success of last week’s visit to Turkey by the committee.
The parliamentarians met President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim and Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and Blunt praised the “very good level of access” given by Turkish officials.
“We were very pleased with the attention we got in Turkey,” Blunt told Anadolu Agency. “We had the opportunity to meet with the president for 90 minutes, which is very unusual for a parliamentary committee to get that length of time from a head of state.”
The cross-party committee was taken to see the damage done to the Turkish parliament on the night of the coup attempt.
“We were able to get a sense of the profound shock that would have been in Turkey at the coup,” he said.
July’s coup bid resulted in 248 people being martyred as elements of the military took to the streets in Ankara and Istanbul in an attempt to overthrow the government. They were defeated after ordinary people heeded Erdogan’s plea to challenge the pro-coup troops.
“The president did include in his presentation to us a seven minute video showing us some of the events of the 15th and 16th July and some of the courage of the people on the streets helping face down that coup,” Blunt said.
“In that sense both President Erdogan and the people who came down to support him did a profound service to democracy around the world.”
Blunt was speaking before the announcement that Prime Minister Theresa May is to visit Ankara on Saturday to meet Erdogan and Yildirim.
He said committee members had raised the possibility of restarting the peace process with the PKK terror group, which returned to its armed campaign in July 2015 following a two-year break in violence.
“Of course, this is Turkey’s internal politics,” Blunt said, adding that it could allow Turkey and the international community to focus on “eliminating the principle threat to us, which of course is ISIL and al-Qaeda.”