EU calls on Turkey to respect democracy, political parties

European Union foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell urged Turkey to respect democracy, drawing attention to the plight of opposition politicians in the country.

Turkey’s government should "fully respect pro-democratic values, the rule of law, and the freedom of political association", Borrell said in a plenary session on Tuesday, according to the Rudaw English news website.

Borrell highlighted the plight of Turkey’s main pro-Kurdish party, whose co-leader Selahattin Demirtaş, a key rival of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan at presidential elections in 2018, remains in jail.

"It's our concern, the situation of the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) and the situation they have been facing since 2016; with their co-leader Demirtaş remaining in prison despite European courts ruling in favour of his release," he said. 

The European Union has frozen progress on Turkey’s membership talks following a failed military coup in 2016, citing democratic backsliding. Erdoğan, who acquired vast new presidential powers at elections in 2018, has called on the 27-member bloc to accept Turkey as a member, saying the country sees its future in Europe.

Turkey’s Constitutional Court unanimously accepted an indictment for the closure of the HDP for alleged links to terrorism in June. The 850-page document also calls for a political ban on about 500 party members and the freezing of its accounts.