MEPs request EU election observers to Turkey
ISTANBUL / Hürriyet18 members of the European Parliament, led by liberal Dutch MEP Marietje Schaake, have sent a letter to EU High Representative Catherine Ashton and European Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Füle to request them set up an EU election observation mission for the monitoring of municipal elections in Turkey, scheduled for March 30.
“Given the current crisis, this step is not just important, it is necessary. The government has introduced a number of laws recently that further constrict freedom of expression and every form of criticism is being hardhandedly suppressed. The EU needs to aim for free and fair elections as a precondition for Turkish democracy," Schaake said.
The letter stressed out "structural problems in Turkey" which resurfaced in recent months regarding the rule of law, the separation of powers and respect for basic human rights. Describing the current tensions in Turkey as an "unprecedented crisis," the letter said:
"In light of recent developments, we feel that setting up an observation mission would not only be important but frankly, necessary. The local elections have the potential of contributing to halting the negative spiral Turkey is in, but only when they are considered free and fair. Meanwhile the lack of press freedom, the deep polarization, and the high threshold for political representation underline the need for reforms in order to establish a more democratic and legitimate environment, and to repair the rule of law. The Turkish government should be urged to extend an official invitation as soon as possible."
Erdoğan: 'They can come'
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said that a European Union observer mission to Turkey is possible. ""If they want, they can come. There is no obstacle," Erdoğan said, according to an NTVMSNBC report.