European lawmaker criticizes AKP rule

European lawmaker criticizes AKP rule

European lawmaker criticizes AKP rule

European Parliament Member (MEP) Andrew Duff criticizes AKP policies. REUTERS photo

Turkey is governed through an autocratic democracy although the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) was democratically elected, according to Andrew Duff, a liberal democrat member of the European Parliament (MEP) for the East of England.

“Governments are elected democratically but they find it hard to rule democratically and AKP is a clear example of this. Today, the opposition is weak, the media is under pressure and the judgments in courts are not posed against criminals but against ‘the other’ and any kind of political opposition in Turkey. Just because you have been democratically elected does not mean that you can rule autocratically,” Duff, who is also a member of the EU-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Committee, said on Dec. 6.

People’s lifestyles ‘not government task’

Duff’s remarks came during a seminar titled “Turkey-EU relations: State of play” at the Middle East Technical University (ODTÜ). Duff, who attended the EU-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Committee meeting which took place in the Turkish Parliament on Dec. 5, said that both Turkey and the EU were at a “historical point” because of the constitutional debates and the forthcoming elections in Turkey and because of forthcoming EU Parliamentary elections in May 2014. “Both Turkey and the EU deserve a new crop of leaders to direct us to further integration, and away from nationalism,” he said.

Acknowledging that he did not find the EU’s enlargement process serious, Duff suggested that Turkey needed to have a much closer scrutiny of EU affairs than it had at present. “Any new relations with the EU should focus on foreign policy and European Security and Defense Policy,” he said.

 The English MEP also commented on Turkish public concerns about the government efforts to intervene in people’s lifestyles. They gave credit to the AKP as it “put the army back into the barracks and problematized the autocratic tendencies of Kemalism, Duff said. “But now they use the same tools of state power as their predecessors did. [Prime Minister Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan might have an idea about how people continue their lives but in a secular modern liberal democracy this is hardly the task of the government.”