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In Turkey French FM rankles with state of emergency comments

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During a meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (R) in Ankara October 24, 2016, French Foriegn Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault expressed concern over the way the Turkish government is implementing its post-coup state of emergency play

During a meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (R) in Ankara October 24, 2016, French Foriegn Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault expressed concern over the way the Turkish government is implementing its post-coup state of emergency

(TURKISH PRESIDENTIAL PRESS OFFICE/AFP)

Visiting French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault on Monday defended Turkey's post-coup state of emergency but rankled his hosts when he appeared to criticise how it was being implemented.

"Regarding the state of emergency, Turkey has every right to defend and protect itself. It is (Ankara's) decision to extend the state of emergency as we also have extended ours," Ayrault said at a press conference with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu in Ankara.

"The only thing we can repeat is our commitment to the rule of law, our commitment to fundamental freedoms," said Ayrault, the highest-ranking French official to visit Turkey since the July coup bid.

Turkey's Western allies have voiced concern over the unprecedented crackdown by the authorities since the attempt to overthrow President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and urged Ankara to abide by the rule of law.

Tens of thousands of people working in the judiciary, media, education and military have been detained, suspended or sacked for suspected links to the movement of the Islamic preacher accused of ordering the July 15 failed putsch.

In July, Ayrault had warned Erdogan not to use the failed coup as a "blank cheque" to silence his opponents, to which the Turkish president told him to "mind his own business".

'No difference between France, Turkey'

On Monday, he appeared to annoy Cavusoglu when he said there was a difference between the states of emergency in Turkey and in France, which imposed its measures in the wake of the November 2015 terror attacks in Paris.

"In France, the state of emergency does not allow for the transfer of legislative power to the executive. Parliament retains all powers of lawmaking and the independence of the judiciary is guaranteed fully," Ayrault said.

Cavusoglu hit back, insisting: "For us, there is no difference between Turkey's state of emergency and France's state of emergency. Their scope and objectives are the same: targeting terrorist organisations."

Over 35,000 people have been arrested since July, Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said at the weekend, while 82,000 people have been investigated over alleged links to the cleric Fethullah Gulen and his Hizmet group.

French Foreign minister Jean-Marc Ayrault (L) visited the Turkish parliament, damaged during the failed coup, on October 24, 2016 play

French Foreign minister Jean-Marc Ayrault (L) visited the Turkish parliament, damaged during the failed coup, on October 24, 2016

(AFP)

Ankara initially imposed a three-month state of emergency after the coup bid and extended it for another 12 weeks earlier this month to tackle what it describes as an extraordinary threat.

After meeting with Erdogan and Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim later, Ayrault did not back down from his comments about the countries' emergency differences.

"Everyone knows that this is not the same thing... There are differences and I simply repeated them. It is a fact," the minister said at Ankara airport before leaving for Greece.

Despite the disagreement, Ayrault said Turkey was an important country with whom France had a "strategic partnership" and friendship which meant they could discuss "difficulties and disagreements".

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