EU official calls on Turkey’s Erdoğan to respect local election results
The first Vice President of The European Commission, Frans Timmermans, has called on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to respect the results of the Marc 31 local elections that saw his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) lose control over Ankara and İstanbul, U.S. news site Politico reported reported on Saturday.
"Turkey has been moving away from European values at great speed in recent years. We hope that this will not be made worse by the fact that the [ruling Justice and Development party] AKP doesn't respect the election results," it quoted the Dutch Commission as telling German newspaper told Welt Am Sonntag in an interview published Saturday.
Erdoğan's conservative AKP lost control to main opposition secularist Republican People’s Party (CHP) in several key cities, including capital Ankara and Istanbul, Turkey’s largest city where Erdoğan served as mayor between 1994 and 1998.
While noting that parties have the right to call for election results to be checked if they have legitimate doubts, Timmermans stressed that "...it is important that the Turkish authorities can independently verify the election result and that the AKP finally recognises the result."
Timmermans also added that by voting for parties that support embracing European values, Turkish citizens have sent the government a clear signal and "Erdoğan must acknowledge that and try to bring his policies closer to European values."
He also said that breaking off talks with Turkey over its accession to the EU would be a mistake and a "disappointment" to pro-European forces in the country.
Timmermans, the centre-left Party of European Socialists' pick for Commission president in the European election in May, noted that despite Turkey being light-years away from the EU, "...locking the door now and locking it completely by breaking off accession negotiations is not in the interests of the European Union."
Turkey accession talks to join the 28-member bloc began in 2005; however, the negotiations have stalled for a host of reasons, including objections from numerous member countries.
Andre Nahles, the leader of the Social Democratic Party of Germany, sent a congratulatory message CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu on the party's results in the local elections.
"Especially the excellent election victories in Ankara and Istanbul are a clear sign that the people in Turkey want real democracy and justice and oppose the authoritarian attempts of the Turkish government. It is precisely under these difficult circumstances that your success cannot be overestimated as a signal for a new political start," the letter said.
Nahles went on to wish the CHP strength and endurance in the struggle for democracy, the rule of law and social justice in Turkey.