October 29, 2015

European Socialists and Democrats: Erdoğan aiming for AK Party majority with Koza İpek raid

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is “desperately trying to achieve an absolute majority for his party in this Sunday's election” via the takeover of Koza İpek Holding, according to a statement released by the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D) in the European Parliament (EP).

S&D Group Vice President Knut Fleckenstein said in the statement published on Thursday: "In the final phase of the election campaign, independent and critical media is vitally important and the suppression of the media by the Turkish government is completely unacceptable. With enormous pressure on government-critical media and censorship, President Erdoğan is desperately trying to achieve an absolute majority for his party in this Sunday's elections.”

Even though Erdoğan holds the office of president, he is one of the co-founders of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and served as the party's chairman for 13 years. He has often been criticized by opposition members for campaigning on behalf of the AK Party despite his presidential oath, which requires the president to be impartial.

The deputy leader of the S&D, the second largest political group in the European Parliament with 191 members from all 28 EU member states, said: “However, Turkish people in the June elections have shown that they want a representative coalition government and it is doubtful that these steps help the AK Party to get more votes; they can only shed doubt on free and fair elections. Europe cannot watch this process silently, but we have to support democratic parties.

"That is why the S&D Group fully supports our sister parties, the Republican People's Party [CHP] and the People's Democratic Party [HDP] in their efforts for more democracy in Turkey,” he said. "The S&D Group will continue to support the European aspirations of Turkey and call on all political forces to fully respect human rights and fundamental freedoms."

In the statement, S&D MEP İsmail Ertuğ added: “Erdoğan's Turkey is on the road to autocracy. That is neither good for Turkey nor for the EU. The elections on Nov. 1 are a decision on Turkey's way for the future -- and therefore crucial.”

Riot police stormed the headquarters of the İpek Media Group in İstanbul shortly after dawn on Wednesday, with journalists from the paper trying in vain to prevent them from entering the building. A board of trustees has since been installed and its first action was to fire Bugün TV General Manager Tarık Toros and Bugün daily Editor-in Chief Erhan Başyurt.

Published on Today's Zaman, 29 October 2015, Thursday