Koenders responds to Turkish referendum result

Foreign minister Bert Koenders has voiced concerns about the provisional results of the Turkish referendum on amending the constitution. ‘These constitutional amendments concentrate a lot of power in one person’s hands,’ said the minister. ‘The European Union will have to critically assess their impact over time.’

‘Like the EU’s High Representative and the Secretary-General of the Council of Europe, I call on Turkey to implement the recommendations of the Council of Europe, of which Turkey is a member,’ Mr Koenders went on to say. The EU, the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) have already expressed serious concerns about the way the amendments concentrate so much power in the Turkish president’s hands. This may have consequences for the separation of powers and the independence of the Turkish judiciary. The OSCE, whose observers monitored the referendum, is now expressing equally grave concerns about the lack of a level playing field in the run-up to the referendum.

‘I share these concerns,’ said Mr Koenders. ‘And the outcome also shows that the Turkish people are divided. In implementing the amendments, the Turkish government would be well-advised to take account of the recommendations made by the Council of Europe, in the interests of upholding democracy and the rule of law and avoiding further polarisation. In addition, if another referendum leads to the introduction of the death penalty, this would be a break with European values.’

Speaking from the Albanian capital Tirana, where he had the opportunity to talk with German foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel and others about the Turkish referendum results, Mr Koenders said that he had asked the European Commission to assess these developments in the light of Turkey’s obligations as an EU candidate country. ‘We are in touch with our European partners,’ he said. ‘We will continue to jointly follow developments and engage in dialogue with Turkey about them.’

Ministry responsible