Ruling AKP rallies risk adding to tension, EU’s Ashton says

Ruling AKP rallies risk adding to tension, EU’s Ashton says

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Ruling AKP rallies risk adding to tension, EU’s Ashton says

A handout photo provided by European Commission, shows EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton attending a EU-Russia summit in the industrial Ural Mountains city of Yekaterinburg, on June 4, 2013. AFP PHOTO / EUROPEAN COMMISSION / VLADISLAV LONSHAKOV

European Union Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton urged that planned rallies by Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) would risk adding to the tension in the country during a discussion in the European Parliament June 12 on the issue.

“Major AKP rallies in Istanbul and Ankara this weekend would risk adding to the tension when we need to see de-escalation. The answer, I believe, and as I have said, is engagement, not antagonism,” Ashton said.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s planned meeting with representatives of the protestors June 12 “is an important opportunity to find a way forward based on dialogue, tolerance and mutual respect,” Ashton told the Parliament also addressed by European Union Commissioner Stefan Füle.

 “Democratically elected governments – even the most successful of them, which have enjoyed three election victories and have half the population’s support – still need to take account of the needs and expectations of those who don’t feel represented. And peaceful demonstrations are a legitimate way for such groups to express their views,” said Ashton.

President of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democracts Hannes Swoboda also targeted Erdoğan during a speech he made during the European Parliament session, where he slammed Erdoğan’s remarks about unwillingness to change.

“The people are the ones protesting against him and his ultraconservative policies. And how does he react? With pure, brutal violence,” Swoboda said, adding that chapters on freedom of speech and rule of law “should be opened without delay.”

“Let’s talk about the problems and either Turkey advances and complies with European standards – or we can close the negotiations,” he said.