EU warns Turkish military from political involvement

The EU has warned Turkey's military against involvement in the country's political system after a disputed presidential election.

Foreign minister Abdullah Gul, a member of the ruling AK Party which is seen to have Islamist roots, failed to register enough votes in the election. Mr Gul secured 357 votes yet 367 votes is needed to win the presidential race in the first round of the election.

Turkey's secularists boycotted the vote and are expected to apply to the courts to annul the poll.

In a response to the political wrangling in the country, Turkey's powerful military force has warned that it is "watching this [election] situation with concern," a comment thought to be a direct warning to the government.

The general staff also wished to remind the democratically-elected politicians that the military would defend secularism in the state which is under assessment regarding joining the EU.

However the EU has urged the military, which has interfered four times in government issues in the past 50 years, to stay out of the dispute.

"It is important that the military leaves the remit of democracy to the democratically elected government and this is a test case if the Turkish armed forces respect democratic secularism and the democratic arrangement of civil-military relations," EU enlargement commissioner, Olli Rehn, told reporters.

"It's important that the military respects also the rules of the democratic game and its own role in that democratic game."

Many international analysts predict military involvement will severely damage any hopes of Turkey's integration into the EU.

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