lundi 23 juillet 2007

EU welcomes AK Party's election victory

Despite the lack of an official statement from the European Commission, Brussels has silently welcomed the Justice and Development Party's (AK Party) election victory, seen as a strong signal to pursue EU reforms.

Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), however, have been overtly happy with the results. Alliance of Liberals and Democrats in Europe (ALDE) leader Graham Watson, Socialist Vice Chairman Jan Marinus Wiersma, Co-Chairman of the Turkey-EU Joint Parliamentary Commission Joost Lagendijk, Turkish-origin German MEP Cem Özdemir and British MEP Andrew Duff have all loudly welcomed the results.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso is expected to make a written statement today. Despite the commission's silence on election night, which is customary for all general elections in member states and candidate countries, EU diplomats have privately admitted that they hope AK Party success, seeing it as the only party likely to push for EU reforms. A written statement from the Socialist Group of the European Parliament praised Turkish voters for standing up to military pressure and for pushing aside French President Nicolas Sarkozy's hostility to Turkey's EU hopes.

ALDE leader Graham Watson: I welcome the support of the Turkish people for Prime Minister [Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan's strategies. Results clearly show both Turkey and the EU that the reform process should continue. The other institutions of the EU should be happy as well. There is a clear message that Turks are strongly behind the AK Party on the presidential elections. I never thought that the AK Party had an Islamist agenda and what is clear for sure is that they are for a liberal Islam. There is another very strong call that I want to underline to both the Republican People's Party (CHP) and the military: Do not ever again prevent a candidate running for the presidency.
Socialist Group Vice Chairman Jan Marinus Wiersma: It is very rare that a governing party would be so strong in the second elections. Turks have backed both the AK Party's EU and domestic policies and the military memorandum has clearly benefited the AK Party. It will be stupid and a great mistake to intervene again with a political party which gained almost 50 percent of the vote. The CHP should now finally understand that it is high time to be a real and genuine social democratic party. In the West if a party leader loses several consecutive elections, they leave their place to someone else.

Turkey-EU Joint Parliamentary Commission Co-Chairman Joost Lagendijk: Turkey voted for stability and reforms. The Turks have rewarded the AK Party in the face of fierce opposition from the CHP, President [Ahmet Necdet] Sezer, the military and the Constitutional Court. Their reaction to the April 27 memorandum has been particularly harsh. The CHP will never be able to go beyond 20 percent of the vote so long as it does not change its stance on many issues. Turks have also made it clear that they respect the military but do not want it to intervene politically. The AK Party should immediately sort out Article 301 and the law on foundations.

Greens MEP Cem Özdemir: Those who released the military memorandum and who supported it have lost together with French President Nicolas Sarkozy. Mr. [Mehmet] Ağar, leader of the Democrat Party (DP), has displayed a very civilized attitude by declaring his resignation. This should set a very good example for [CHP leader] Mr. [Deniz] Baykal. In the West a leader who has lost several elections knows what to do. The Turkish people have made it clear that sovereignty belongs to the nation and to Parliament.

ALDE MEP Andrew Duff: It is an extraordinary outcome. Brussels, both officially and unofficially, will react with extreme pleasure. We can only welcome the results. The message to the CHP and military is to catch up with the realities of modern Turkey. Mr. Baykal should reconsider his position within his party.

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