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EU chiefs urge 'swift return' to constitution in Turkey

ULAN BATOR -- EU chiefs Donald Tusk and Jean-Claude Juncker on Saturday backed Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government and urged a "swift return" to normal after a coup attempt.

"Turkey is a key partner for the European Union. The EU fully supports the democratically elected government, the institutions of the country and the rule of law," European Council President Tusk and European Commission head Juncker said in a joint statement.

"We call for a swift return to Turkey's constitutional order," added the statement with EU foreign policy head Federica Mogherini, issued from an Asia-Europe summit in Mongolia.

"We continue to follow closely the developments and to coordinate with the
28 EU Member States."

A man stays with a Turkish national flag at Taksim square in Istanbul on July 16, 2016. (AFP Photo)
A man stays with a Turkish national flag at Taksim square in Istanbul on July 16, 2016. (AFP Photo)

Mogherini convened an urgent meeting of members' representatives gathered in Ulan Bator, who "expressed support to the democratic institutions of the country and condemned the use of violence against them", the EU said in a separate statement. 

"They agreed that any escalation of violence involving civilians has to be avoided," it added. 

NATO and US President Barack Obama have also backed the country's democratic institutions following the coup attempt.

Brussels will be watching with deep concern the events in Turkey, a key partner on its southeastern flank which has been trying to join the EU for many years without success.

Turkey is also a crucial partner for the EU because of the controversial deal they signed in March to tackle the migration crisis.

Under the deal, Ankara agreed to take back migrants and refugees from the Greek islands and to stop people crossing the Aegean Sea. In return it is to get aid and visa-free travel for 80 million Turks to the EU.

The bloc overcame its aversion to Erdogan's increasingly authoritarian rule, which has received sharp criticism from the EU, to sign the deal.

Turkey will now likely dominate an EU foreign ministers' meeting on Monday which will also be attended by US Secretary of State John Kerry. (AFP)