Pittella: Turkey’s authoritarian drift under Erdogan is closing door to EU. CHP and HDP must stand united for democracy

Turkey can emerge stronger if it defends pluralism and justice

During a two-day visit to Ankara, S&D Group President Gianni Pittella attended the trial of the president of the HDP party, met with the other leading figures in the party and spoke with CHP president Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu. 

Following the meetings, President Pittella said:

“Thoughts and political ideas cannot be jailed. I wanted to attend the politically motivated trial against Selahattin Demirtas leader of the HDP party, to express my personal solidarity and the support of the S&D Group.  Over one hundred lawsuits have been launched against the Kurdish leader by the Turkish authorities. This is not acceptable.

“This repression of political opposition is happening alongside the mass imprisonment of journalists, judges, academics and soldiers, without charges and without any possibility of appeal. We call on President Erdogan to release Demirtas and all political prisoners immediately.

“Historically, we Socialists and Democrats have been the strongest supporters of Turkey’s European future and remain perhaps the last ones. We still support this future. However, President Erdogan is making it impossible by turning Turkey into an increasingly authoritarian country. We are clear - Erdogan is closing the door to Europe. For us democracy and human rights come first.  We will oppose any attempt to bargain between the issues of migration, the customs union and visa liberalisation.

“Given the current democratic situation and the recent constitutional referendum, we have been forced to request the suspension of the accession talks. The way the amendments to the constitution are implemented will be crucial for the future of EU-Turkey relations. 

“Paradoxically, precisely because of the current dramatic situation in Turkey, CHP, HDP and all the democratic opposition forces have the political and moral responsibility to put aside their differences and stand united for democracy.  This is the moment to give a united voice to all the citizens who voted against the referendum. We, Socialists and Democrats, are ready to support and facilitate this crucial process. The future of Turkey and its relationship with the EU is at stake.”