The wave of mass arrests that followed the attempted coup d’etat raises concerns about the status of free speech in Turkey, the German Chancellor Angela Merkel told the Turkish President.

Speaking to reporters in Ankara following a two-hour bilateral meeting with Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Merkel on Thursday acknowledged the Turkish authorities’ duty to punish coup plotters, but called for justice to be carried out on an individual basis, Efe news reported.

“Opposition is part of democracy”, Merkel said, adding that she lodged her concerns with Erdogan that freedom of the press and free speech had been endangered by the purge of Turkish institutions since the failed coup.

It was Merkel’s first visit to the nation since the attempted overthrow of Erdogan on July 15, 2016.

Merkel went on to mention the forthcoming referendum in Turkey in which Erdogan’s governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) seeks to alter the Constitution in order to hand over all executive power to the presidency.

The initiative to consolidate executive powers to the presidency has been denounced as authoritarian by Turkish opposition.

Erdogan said the separation of powers would be retained, and that amending the Constitution was an attempt to make the executive, legislative and judicial powers more dynamic.