EU urges Turkey to investigate election fraud
By Eszter Zalan
The EU urges Turkish leaders to seek a "broad national consensus" and investigate the election irregularities reported by international observers, the European Commission said on Tuesday (19 April).
"We call on all actors to show restraint and on the authorities to launch transparent investigations into these alleged irregularities found by the observers," said Margaritis Schinas, the EU executive's spokesman.
The EU's call comes after the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and the Council of Europe, a democracy watchdog, both said in a report that it saw fundamental flaws and an uneven playing field in Turkey's referendum.
On 16 April, slightly over 51 percent of Turkish voters agreed to constitutional amendments that give greater executive powers to president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Turkey’s election authority issued a controversial ruling on referendum day to accept ballots in envelopes not bearing official polling station stamps, raising questions about the legitimacy of the votes.
Considering the far-reaching changes to the constitution, the alleged irregularities and the slim majority, the EU has called on Turkey to act with caution.
"We call on the Turkish authorities to consider the next steps very carefully and to seek the broadest possible national consensus in the follow-up to the referendum," Schinas said.
Asked about Erdogan's plans to reinstate the death penalty, the commission said such a move would end the country's EU bid.
It is "the reddest of all red lines", the spokesman said, adding that the EU unequivocally rejects the death penalty and would not even discuss the possibility of reintroducing it.
"Moving from rhetoric to action would be a clear signal that Turkey does not want to be a member of the European family," he insisted.
Over the weekend, the European Parliament's rapporteur on Turkey, Kati Piri, also expressed concern over the vote, which she called a "major shift" away from European values.
“This is a sad day for all democrats in Turkey. It is clear that the country cannot join the EU with a constitution that doesn’t respect the separation of powers and has no checks and balances," she said in a statement.
"If the package is implemented unchanged, this will have to lead to the formal suspension of the EU accession talks," she added.