UPDATES WITH MORE REMARKS FROM KALIN
By Burcu Arik
ISTANBUL (AA) – Turkey's state of emergency imposed in the wake of the defeated 2016 coup attempt is expected to be lifted on July 18, a top Turkish presidential aide said on Friday.
"If we are faced with a very extraordinary threat, the state of emergency mechanism can be declared again," Ibrahim Kalin told reporters after the country's first Cabinet meeting under the new presidential system.
Turkey declared a state of emergency for the first time on July 20, 2016 following the deadly coup attempt orchestrated by the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gulen, which left 251 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured.
In April, the government renewed the ongoing state of emergency for the seventh time.
Kalin said the main purpose of the Cabinet meeting was to "continue working without losing pace, time."
"Ensuring budgetary discipline, fighting inflation and implementing structural reforms are among the priorities in the new term," said Kalin, adding that new measures would be also taken on export-oriented growth.
Kalin also said that senior appointments within ministries would be made in the coming days.
– 'Medium-term program'
"A medium-term program to be determined in consultation with all stakeholders will be prepared in the coming weeks and be presented to the president."
Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s re-election on June 24 marked Turkey's transition to an executive presidential system of government, which did away with the prime minister post, among other changes.
Erdogan won the presidential election with 52.5 percent of the vote, according to Turkey’s Supreme Election Council (YSK).
The presidential aide also said Turkey welcomed the NATO declaration which was adopted during the two-day summit on Wednesday and Thurday in Brussels.
The summit statement affirmed a commitment made in 2014 after Russia annexed Crimea that NATO allies would halt defence spending cuts and start spending more as their economies grow, with the aim of moving toward 2 percent of GDP within a decade.
"Tailored assurance measures for Turkey to respond to the growing security challenges from the south contribute to the security of the Alliance as a whole, and will be fully implemented," the final communique said on Turkey.
Kalin also said Erdogan had positive talks with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras during the NATO summit, but that the release of eight coup plotters in Greece would cause tense bilateral relations.
A few hours after the July 2016 defeated attempt to overthrow the Turkish government, the eight ex-military personnel arrived in Greece on a hijacked Black Hawk helicopter and requested asylum.
Turkey immediately issued an extradition request, which was eventually declined by the Greek Supreme Court in January 2017, after a series of trials and appeals.
The soldiers are accused by Turkish authorities of involvement in the defeated coup and being members of the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO).
The eight ex-soldiers — who were released from prison after their 18-month detention period expired — are now being kept in a house outside of Athens, according to local media.
"We hope they [Greece] will not take any step which will make the putschists happy," Kalin said.