Germany’s agriculture minister Cem Özdemir and Greens MEP Sergey Lagodinsky expressed concerns over safety and fairness of Turkey’s upcoming 14 May elections, based on past actions by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) as well as recent developments.
Concerns that the elections may be manipulated or that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan may not resign “are not unfounded”, the Turkish-German politician Özdemir told Hanover-based RND. In past elections Erdoğan “had political opponents locked up … and massively restricted freedom of assembly and information”, Özdemir said.
According to the minister, Erdoğan also wants to see the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) banned. A lawsuit is currently underway at Turkey’s Constitutional Court to shut down the party, based on alleged affiliation with groups Turkey designates terrorist.
Özdemir also said Erdoğan’s defeat by main opposition leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu would “pave the way for a return to democracy”.
Sergey Lagodinsky, member of the European Parliament for Germany and chair of the EU-Turkey joint parliamentary committee, also voiced concerns after Tuesday saw more than 150 pro-Kurdish activists, journalists and lawyers arrested in a police operation based in the southeastern Diyarbakır (Amed) province.
“The arrests took place just 19 days before general elections,” Lagodinsky said. “It is alarming that among the arrested were lawyers who mobilised to ensure free elections, as well as journalists from independent media outlets.”
Since the MEP issued his message, several of the journalists have been sent to prison to await trial.
“It is disconcerting that the arrests took place in areas close to those most affected by the terrible earthquakes of February 2023, and particularly target the Kurdish community and its representation,” he added, and called on Turkish authorities “to refrain from attacks on civil society and political opponents, especially in the run-up to the elections”.