Turkey blocks two European MPs from observing elections
Two lawmakers from Germany and Sweden said Thursday that Turkey had blocked them as international OSCE observers of key weekend elections.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) go into parliamentary and presidential polls Sunday which could lead to radical changes in how the country is run.
German MP Andrej Hunko of the far-left Die Linke Party said he was scheduled to help monitor the elections for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), as he had in years past.
But he said he was told on Thursday by Turkey’s OSCE representative that he could not go, forcing him to get off a Turkey-bound flight from Vienna at the last moment.
He labelled the entry ban an “unprecedented affront to international election monitoring” and blamed what he called the “growing nervousness” of Erdogan’s camp.
Swedish Greens Party MP Jabar Amin said Thursday he was being held at Istanbul airport, where officials were planning to put him on a flight back to Stockholm.
“When I arrived at passport control, the security services were waiting for me, they took my passport and took me to another place,” he told Swedish news agency TT.
He added he had been told by the officers that “they had received orders from above.”
“It is unacceptable that an election observer has been prevented from entering Turkey. We have asked for an explanation from Turkish officials,” Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom said.
Germany’s foreign ministry said it and the OSCE were “in contact with Turkey and urging a lifting of the entry ban,” stressing that the monitoring mission was in the service of “strengthening democracy and the rule of law.”
The OSCE in a letter seen by AFP expressed its “disappointment” and said it “deplores” that mission members Hunko and Jabar had been banned, “reportedly based on their publicly expressed political opinions.”
Erdogan’s AKP, running together with junior partner the Nationalist Movement Party in the so-called People’s Alliance, is expected to win the most seats, but some analysts believe it will fail to win a parliamentary majority.
After the polls, Turkey’s parliamentary system will transform into an executive presidency following constitutional changes approved by a referendum in April 2017.