Canadian government urges calm in Turkey, advises Canadians there to stay indoors

The Canadian government urged calm in Turkey amid a failed coup attempt Friday and advised Canadians there to limit their movements and avoid public gatherings.
Supporters of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan cheer at the Ataturk Airport in Istanbul, Turkey, on July 16, 2016. (Huseyin Aldemir/Reuters)

The Canadian government urged calm in Turkey amid a failed coup attempt Friday and advised Canadians not to travel to the country. 

On Saturday, when it became clear the coup was unsuccessful, Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion said he commended the people of Turkey for defending their democracy and civilian rule. 

"We are relieved that democracy has been preserved and that the democratically elected government remains in power. We are also encouraged by the gradual return to stability today," Dion said in a statement.

"We stand with Turkey, a strong partner and NATO ally, as it recovers from these unsettling events. We are confident that the government and the people of Turkey will persevere against these challenges in an orderly and peaceful manner." 

Forces loyal to Turkey's president quashed the coup attempt in a night of explosions, air battles and gunfire that left about 265 people dead and some 1,400 wounded.

Dion advised Canadians in Turkey to stay indoors, limit their movements and avoid crowds and public gatherings.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued a statement late Friday expressing concern about the uprising by members of Turkey's military.

"We call for restraint by all parties," Trudeau's statement said. "Canada supports the preservation of Turkish democracy, and condemns any attempt to subvert Turkey's democratic institutions by force of arms.

The federal government is offering consular assistance to Canadians in Turkey, and Dion noted the government received more than 600 inquiries from Canadians on Friday and Saturday, either in Turkey or with family in Turkey, and have provided them with instructions and reassurance. 

In Canada, organizers of the Edmonton Turkish Festival announced on their website that they had decided to postpone the event this weekend, "due to political unrest in Turkey." 

The website said the festival, which was to feature Turkish music, folk dances and cuisine, would be rescheduled for a later date. 

The coup attempt also left a Canadian bid for international recognition for a huge area of boreal forest in limbo. 

The UNESCO World Heritage Committee, which has been meeting in Istanbul and granting approval for world heritage site applications, was to consider Pimachiowin Aki, which straddles the boundary between Manitoba and Ontario. 

The meetings were suspended Saturday, just as the proposal was to appear on the agenda, according to Shirley Muir with the Pimachiowin Aki project. 

A UNESCO spokesman, George Papagiannis, said in an email that the meetings would resume Sunday. 

"It will be a compressed schedule focusing on priorities. One of the main priorities will be to finish the nominations," Papagiannis said. 

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed that those responsible for the coup attempt would be held accountable and authorities arrested or dismissed thousands of troops and judges. 

Dion requested the government of Turkey to call for restraint and to oppose all acts of violence. 

"We urge all parties to continue to uphold and reinforce our shared democratic principles, including respect for democratic institutions, human rights and the rule of law. Going forward, Canada calls on all parties in Turkey to refrain from further violence and derogation from the rule of law," Dion said. 

With files from The Associated Press