PRESS RELEASE OF THE ALLIANCE OF EUROPEAN CONSERVATIVES AND REFORMISTS (AECR)
The AECR is to send a fact-finding mission to Turkey to meet with leading AK Parti officials to discuss the current instability in the country as well as the measures the government has put in place both prior to and since the 15 July failed military coup.
The attempted coup was inexcusable, and those responsible must bear full responsibility for the devastating loss of life, as well as considerable blame for the ensuing political and civil chaos. The coup has severely destabilised a country that has managed to remain relatively secure in what are very difficult circumstances. It should not be forgotten that Turkey continues to face civil wars on two of its borders, regular deadly terrorist attacks in its major cities as well an armed and violent Kurdish separatist movement in the east of the country.
As Daniel Hannan, AECR Secretary General, said:
Those who backed the Turkish coup attempt were lining up with Assad, Hizbollah and the Marxist PKK. They were, more pertinently, opposing every parliamentary opposition party in Turkey. To their immense credit, Turkey’s secular nationalists, liberals and Leftists, unlike most of their Egyptian counterparts, stood firm for the principle of representative government despite their criticisms of the AK Party administration.
However, recent restrictive measures taken by the Turkish government are worrying. Those who place great importance on the value of democracy and the need for an open society are increasingly concerned. As AECR President Jan Zahradil recently stated:
Since coming to office in 2003, the AK Party has led a great reforming agenda, dismantling oppressive laws inherited from previous military regimes, advancing civil rights to Kurds, liberalising broadcasting and presiding over an economic boom. But recently, there has been an intolerance of dissent and a centralisation of power, which is incompatible with the values of democratic pluralism.
AECR’s Reykjavík Declaration, signed by AK Parti in 2012, emphasizes the “dignity and autonomy of the individual, who should be as free as possible from state coercion.” Moreover, it clearly declares “the equality of all citizens before the law […], [and] rejects all forms of extremism and authoritarianism.”
Any AECR party that fails to abide by the Reykjavík Declaration risks suspension and expulsion from the AECR.
The ruling AK Parti now has some very difficult choices ahead. AECR hopes that it will once again embrace parliamentary rule, lift the current restrictive measures on free speech and stop the purges of public bodies that are incompatible with an open society and democratic pluralism.
As our Secretary General explains below, we hope they choose the right path:
The ruling party could act with generosity. It could recognise the democratic credentials of its opponents. It could commit to parliamentary rule, dropping the idea of a new presidential system. It could, in short, show itself to be a mature democratic party, capable of outliving its founder.
Alternatively, it could treat all dissent as hostile, failing to distinguish between political criticism and military resistance. It could opt for vengeance over statesmanship.
For the sake of the stability of the region, as well as of the well-being of Turkey itself, I hope it chooses the former path. As the Koran says, “God loves him who restrains his anger and pardons the people” (3:134). There is anger enough in the Levant. Turks should hold themselves to a higher standard.
Notes to editors
1. The Alliance of European Conservatives and Reformists (AECR) is a pan-European political party.
2. The AECR adopted the Reykjavík Declaration at its Council Meeting in March 2014. This declaration defines the principles that underpin the AECR.
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The AECR brings together parties committed to individual liberty, national sovereignty, parliamentary democracy, the rule of law, private property, low taxes, sound money, free trade, open competition, and the devolution of power.