CHP European Union Representation, PES Presidency Council Member Kader Sevinç talked to L’Echo newspaper about the situation in Turkey.
– What is the reaction of CHP the coup attempt?
This is a cowardly and bloody action against democracy and people. We, the Turkish progressives reject the military coup attempt. CHP President Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu publicly opposed to the attempt from the very early hours of the developments in the night of 15 July, our deputies went to the Parliament to protect the symbol of the democratic legitimacy. The CHP has always explicitly been against any sort of military intervention to the democratic institutions. CHP also promoted the joint declaration by all political parties supporting the democracy. Our country suffered a lot from the military coups in the past.
In the CHP’s position following the failed attempt, there were very crucial reminders for the ongoing public debate in Turkey: democracy is about the rule of law, freedoms, independent and impartial judiciary, separation of powers, freedom of faith and free media. It is also about the legitimate right of resistance when the democracy is under attack. For everybody who is acting in the name of democracy, it is critical to stand up for every aspect of democracy in Turkey: that includes free speech & secularism.
– What should the European Union do in reaction?
Turkey is member of NATO and Council of Europe and a country in the process of EU membership. Therefore Turkey has been sufficiently in compliance with the EU’s democratic criteria. However in the last years there were growing criticism from inside and outside about weakening of the democratic standards in Turkey.
For many years until 2006 the Turkey’s EU process was well functionning. Turkey was implementing democratic reforms, contributing to Europe’s economic growth and security. But when Cyprus started to block politically Turkey’s membership process together with turcophobic policies by the likes of Sarkozy in France, EU lost its positive influence on Turkey. Blocking the membership chapters, supporting constitutional changes in 2010, permitting anti-Turkey groups to take-over the consultative platforms between Ankara and Brussels, not actively promoting a progressive agenda for the accession were the major shortcomings of the EU. Today citizens in Turkey but also in the EU countries pay the heavy price of this policy of exclusion of Turkey. From security and democracy to economy and refugee crisis, if Turkey had been kept in the EU membership track, we would have much better political and social context in Europe. We expect Europe to stand firmly for the people of Turkey, democracy, the rule of law and freedoms. Not just by words but also by actions. . This is a common European interest. Following the Brexit and Euro zone’s reforms, we know that there will be a Europe with different status for membership. Meanwhile Turkey’s EU process must be revitalized urgently.
— How do you explain this coup?
It looks like it was originally a desperate criminal initiative by an obscure network of sectarian interest within the state apparatus. It does not have any support from the people. Now the challenge for the Turkish democracy is to not fall to the spiral of a witch-hunting exceeding the circle of plotters. Turkish society needs healing and compromise, not further polarization. The EU’s constructive influence is vital in this respect.
Excerpts from Ms Sevinc’s comments summarised in L’Echo newspaper, in French.