The bloc’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell has voiced the European Union’s concerns over Ankara’s decision to close the country’s largest opposition party, namely the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and to strip one of its prominent members of his parliamentary status.
“As an EU candidate country and a member of the Council of Europe, Turkey urgently needs to respect its core democratic obligations, including respect for democracy, human rights and the rule of law,” Borrell said in a statement issued on Thursday by the union’s External Action Service (EEAS).
He added that the close of HDP “would violate the rights of millions of voters” in the country.
Borrell’s announcement came after Ankara announced on Wednesday it would strip Omer Faruk Gergerlioglu, a prominent member of the Turkish Grand National Assembly of his parliamentary seat and parliamentary immunity and also incarcerate him. The same day, Supreme Court Prosecutor Bekir Sahin, filed a lawsuit requesting the HDP closure.
Sahin argued that the HDP “was acting together with PKK terrorists and affiliated organisations, acting as an extension of such organisations”.
The move “adds to the EU’s concerns regarding the backsliding in fundamental rights in Turkey and undermines the credibility of the Turkish authorities’ stated commitment to reforms,” the EU statement further reads.
Turkey’s move faced international criticism, with the US Department of State stressing that dissolving the HDP undermined democracy in Turkey.
“We are … monitoring the initiation of efforts to dissolve the People’s Democratic Party, a decision that would unduly subvert the will of Turkish voters, further undermine democracy in Turkey, and deny millions of Turkish citizens their chosen representation,” Department of State spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement.
Turkey labelled the criticism as an “intervention” in the country’s judiciary, with its Foreign Ministry saying in a statement that “Everyone must wait for the ruling the Constitutional Court will make in this process.”
“Commenting on an ongoing judicial process amounts to intervention in the judiciary,” the FM added.
The decision to ban HDP over alleged ties to the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) marked the culmination of a years-long crackdown against national parliament’s third-largest party.