Turkish gov’t rejects 24 diplomats from Western countries as electoral observers

Twenty-four diplomats from 11 Western countries have been denied permission to observe the Turkish electoral process in Sunday’s parliamentary and presidential elections as part of  an Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) observation mission, according to a report by the Cumhuriyet daily.

Two other members of the mission were prevented from even entering the country on claims that they were terrorist sympathisers and anti-Turkish, the newspaper said. The Turkish Foreign Ministry has decided not to allow any foreign representatives to observe the electoral process, it added.

An election observer speaking anonymously told Cumhuriyet that it was normal for diplomats to be able to observe elections. “When even Russia allows hundreds of diplomats to observe its elections, this being denied in Turkey is very disappointing,” the observer said. “There will certainly be a response to this and Turkish diplomats will face similar sanctions,” the diplomat added.

Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency (AA) reported that OSCE observers who are in Turkey to monitor Sunday’s elections are planning to create chaos by tainting the voting process.

The OSCE is one of eight international organizations set to observe Turkey’s presidential and general elections taking place on Sunday. The organization in May said it would be sending an increased number of observers as compared to previous elections. Approximately 400 OSCE observers have arrived for Sunday’s elections taking place under Turkey’s ongoing state of emergency, AA said, citing security sources.

Some OSCE observers are giving ‘’tactics’’ to opposition figures on how to cast a shadow over the election results, AA claimed, noting that the observers would keep on Turkey’s agenda unequal campaigning opportunities for candidates and the use of public resources by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in order to paint an image of unfair elections on Sunday.

“Frequently address the issue of the elections taking place under the state of emergency; target the organizations that hold the elections; use the fact that 120,000 voters’ ballot boxes have been moved,” AA said, referring to the strategies they claim would be employed by OSCE observers.

AA also reported on Saturday that over 600 members of the foreign press from 34 countries have received accreditation from Turkey’s Directorate General of Press and Information (BYEGM) for the June 24 presidential and parliamentary elections. BYEGM stated that a total of 635 foreign journalists have arrived in Turkey to monitor the polls. Press centers with screens were established in Ankara, İstanbul and Diyarbakır by BYEGM in order to allow members of the international press to follow the election results.

Meanwhile, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım claimed on Saturday that some foreign election observers “behave like spokespeople of radical political structures.” Speaking to AA, Yıldırım also slammed main opposition leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu for bringing election security to the agenda before the June 24 polls.

“Our government has been taking necessary measures for the last several months in order to ensure a safe and peaceful election,” claimed Yıldırım. Responding to a question regarding foreign election observers, Yıldırım said some of them “behave like spokespeople of radical political structures. We believe that this is not correct. We think it means an intervention in the elections in one way or another.”

He said no one has the right to cast a shadow over these elections in Turkey and that it would be unfair to the Turkish people. Yıldırım said the election observers should come and observe the elections “properly and should not intervene in politics.”

Turkey will go to the polls on June 24 for presidential and parliamentary elections. Nearly 400 OSCE observers have reportedly arrived in Turkey to monitor the elections. However, two parliamentarians from Germany and Sweden were denied entry to Turkey on Friday for the OSCE observation mission.

The Turkish government had accused Germany’s left-wing Die Linke party deputy Andrej Hunko, who served in the Council of Europe (CoE) observation mission for the April 2017 constitutional amendment referendum, of being biased in favor of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Jabar Amin, a Kurdish lawmaker in the Swedish Parliament, told Kurdistan 24 on Friday that Turkish authorities denied him entry to Turkey, where he was to observe this weekend’s elections. He claimed it was because of his stance toward President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s government.

“Yesterday, when I arrived at Ataturk Airport in İstanbul, Turkish security was already waiting. They immediately took me to a separate place there and told me that a decision had been made from above that I was not to enter the country,” Amin said in a live TV interview from Stockholm.

“‘You have to be our guest for several hours,’ they said. Then, in the evening, they demanded that I get on a plane that took me back to Sweden,” he continued, adding that officials were respectful and professional in their conduct with him.

“Turkish customs officers gave me no official explanation regarding why we could not enter. It was all about an order from a higher place. But we have zero doubts that it was because of our criticism of the Erdogan regime’s oppression of the Kurdish and Turkish peoples,” Amin stated.

“For them, that meant we are more inclined to report fraud. The Turkish regime thinks it has taken a pre-emptive step,” he said and added, “But now, our other OSCE colleagues are much more aware of their mission and careful in their role as observers.”

According to Amin, the OSCE and the Swedish Foreign Ministry responded harshly and demanded an explanation. “Turkey does not have a right to choose observers as it sees fit. My German colleague and I are authorized by our parliaments,” he said. “Turkey has, in fact, hurt itself more with such a disgrace.”

“Today I heard from media that the Turkish Embassy in Sweden had notified their intelligence about me,” said Amin.

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