Turkey to lift emergency rule on Wednesday

Turkey is to lift the two-year-old state of emergency on Wednesday, July 18. The much-awaited decision was made during the first Cabinet meeting of the new executive presidential system on Friday.

Emergency rule has been renewed seven times since it was imposed in the aftermath of the failed coup attempt in July 2016.

The state of emergency gave Parliament increased powers to pass new laws, and suspend rights and freedoms.

Under the measures, more than 110,000 public-sector employees allegedly affiliated with the Fethullah Gulen network and terrorist organizations have been removed from their posts, while more than 1,300 associations have been closed.

Turkish business organizations have been calling for the end of the emergency rule to normalize the country's international relations and preserve its reputation.

The EU has also criticized Turkey, claiming that many civil and political rights were curtailed.

Whether the decision will re-energize Turkey's relationship with the EU, which has dropped to an all-time low over recent years, remains to be seen.

Foreign investors in Turkey also criticized the emergency rule, saying it deterred direct investment to the country, which is in desperate need of cash flow.

In a press conference following Friday's decision, presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said that if Turkey faced another threat, the state of emergency might be reintroduced.

The lifting of the two-year emergency rule was among promises Recep Tayyip Erdogan made during his election campaign.

Laura Batalla, secretary general of European Parliament's Turkey Forum, a cross-party non-partisan discussion platform, said the lifting of the state of emergency was a positive step toward normalizing relations between Turkey and the EU.

While this move has been long overdue, we expect a renewed commitment from the Turkish government to improve the protection of fundamental rights and freedoms in the country, she told Arab News.

Batalla also noted that an improvement in this area could lead to an unfreezing of negotiations on the modernization of the Customs Union as well as improving the overall climate of relations between Turkey and the EU.

Sinan Ulgen, chairman of the Istanbul-based Center for Economics and Foreign Policy Studies and a visiting scholar at Carnegie Europe in Brussels, said the lifting of emergency rule would be welcomed by foreign investors.

But the vulnerabilities of the Turkish economy have in the meantime deepened. And more structural measures are urgently needed to restore confidence, he said.

According to Ulgen, the lifting of emergency rule is a necessary but insufficient step forward.

Much of the same can be said with respect to Turkey's relations with the EU. The lifting of the emergency rule is a positive development that urgently needs to be coupled with other reform measures, he said.

Source: International Islamic News Agency