A YORKSHIRE journalist in Turkey spoke tonight of his shock after a coup by the military in the country.
Steve Parsley, originally of Harrogate, in North Yorkshire, now lives in the Turkish city of Fethiye, a port city on Turkey’s southwestern Turquoise Coast.
He said: “It’s all a bit disjointed.
“People can’t quite believe what is happening. It all seems so far away but it matters to every single person.
“Tanks are on the bridges in Istanbul. The airports are shut. No-one is quite sure if we’re facing more extremism or moderation.
“Turks are queueing at the cashpoints. (There is) some optimism but fear if this does not pay off the consequences will be grim.”
His comments came as prime minister Binali Yildirim told NTV television: “It is correct that there was an attempt.”
Later, Turkey’s armed forces said they had “fully seized control” of the country, citing rising autocratic rule and increased terrorism.
The military statement read on state TV came after gunfire was heard outside military headquarters, fighter jets buzzed over the capital and vehicles blocked two major bridges in Istanbul.
Soldiers blocked entry to Ataturk Airport where four tanks were stationed, according to the private Dogan news agency. Two other tanks and a military vehicle were stationed in front of the VIP terminal. The report said the soldiers had entered the tower and stopped all flights.
News reports said President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was safe and would make a televised statement soon.
The military said it seized control “to reinstall the constitutional order, democracy, human rights and freedoms, to ensure that the rule of law once again reigns in the country, for the law and order to be reinstated”.
The military statement went on to say that “all international agreements and commitments will remain. We pledge that good relations with all world countries will continue”.
Premier Binali Yildirim said that a group within the military has engaged in what appeared to be an attempted coup.
Mr Yildirim told the private NTV television: “it is correct that there was an attempt”, when asked if there was a coup.
Mr Yildirim did not provide details, but said Turkey would never allow any “initiative that would interrupt democracy”.
“We are focusing on the possibility of an attempt (coup),” Mr Yildirim said. “There was an illegal act by a group within the military that was acting out of the chain of military command. Our people should know that we will not allow any activity that would harm democracy.”
Military jets were heard flying over Ankara and Istanbul. Gunfire was heard outside Turkey’s military headquarters in Ankara, while media reports said ambulances were seen out front.
“There are certain groups who took the arms trusted to them by the state and pointed them toward state employees,” Mr Yildirim said.
“We shall determine soon who they are. Our security forces have acted against these groups.”
The Dogan news agency said traffic on the Bosphorus and Fatih Sultan Mehmet bridges was blocked. Video footage showed the bridge being blocked by military vehicles.
All flights into Ankara and Istanbul are believed to have been cancelled.
The British Foreign Office said: “We are concerned about events unfolding in Ankara and Istanbul. Our Embassy is monitoring the situation closely.”
The Turkish Armed Forces consists of the Land Forces, the Naval Forces and the Air Force. The Gendarmerie and the Coast Guard operate as parts of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in peacetime.
The Chief of the General Staff is appointed by the President and is responsible to the Prime Minister. The Council of Ministers is responsible to the Parliament for matters of national security and the adequate preparation of the armed forces to defend the country. However, the authority to declare war and to deploy the Turkish Armed Forces to foreign countries or to allow foreign armed forces to be stationed in Turkey rests solely with the Parliament.
Turkey has the second largest standing military force in NATO, after the US Armed Forces, with an estimated strength of 495,000 deployable forces, according to a 2011 NATO estimate.
Turkey is one of five NATO member states which are part of the nuclear sharing policy of the alliance, together with Belgium, Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands. A total of 90 B61 nuclear bombs are hosted at the Incirlik Air Base, 40 of which are allocated for use by the Turkish Air Force in case of a nuclear conflict, but their use requires the approval of NATO.
Every fit male Turkish citizen otherwise not barred is required to serve in the military for a period ranging from three weeks to a year, dependent on education and job location. Turkey does not recognise conscientious objection and does not offer a civilian alternative to military service.
A defining aspect of Turkey’s foreign policy is the country’s long-standing strategic alliance with the United States. The common threat posed by the Soviet Union during the Cold War led to Turkey’s membership of NATO in 1952, ensuring close bilateral relations with Washington. Subsequently Turkey benefited from the United States’ political, economic and diplomatic support, including in key issues such as the country’s bid to join the European Union. In the post–Cold War environment, Turkey’s geostrategic importance shifted towards its proximity to the Middle East, the Caucasus and the Balkans.
Turkey is a parliamentary representative democracy. Since its foundation as a republic in 1923, Turkey has developed a strong tradition of secularism.
The President of the Republic is the head of state and has a largely ceremonial role. The president is elected for a five-year term by direct elections and Tayyip Erdoğan is the first president elected by direct voting.
Executive power is exercised by the Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers which make up the government, while the legislative power is vested in the unicameral parliament, the Grand National Assembly of Turkey. The judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature, and the Constitutional Court is charged with ruling on the conformity of laws and decrees with the constitution. The Council of State is the tribunal of last resort for administrative cases, and the High Court of Appeals for all others.
Universal suffrage for both sexes has been applied throughout Turkey since 1933, and every Turkish citizen who has turned 18 years of age has the right to vote. There are 550 members of parliament who are elected for a four-year term by a party-list proportional representation system from 85 electoral districts. The Constitutional Court can strip the public financing of political parties that it deems anti-secular or separatist, or ban their existence altogether. The electoral threshold is 10 percent of the votes.