WASHINGTON: The United States has urged Turkish authorities to “ensure political freedom,” free speech and the independence of the judiciary, the U.S. State Department spokesperson said on April 11, responding to a question on the upcoming charter referendum in Turkey.
“We consistently urge Turkey at every level to respect and ensure political freedom, freedom of expression, judicial independence, and other fundamental freedoms,” Mark Toner said.
Turkey is a strong ally and a strong partner to the U.S., Toner added.
“Again, it’s because we value and respect Turkey’s democracy and democratic tradition [that we make these warnings]. Turkey, as I said, is a strong ally, and we want to see the strongest, most democratic Turkey we possibly can,” he said.
“We firmly believe that freedom of expression, including freedom of speech and freedom of the media, needs to be protected. We believe political processes need to be transparent and we believe that political parties need to be able to express their views to get their views out there to the public,” Toner said.
He was commenting on a recent Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) report that pointed to limitations that the opposition faces in the country on the eve of the April 16 referendum on whether to shift to an executive presidential system from the current parliamentary system.
Toner said the U.S. officials have seen the OSCE and the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights’ interim report.
“We value the OSCE’s contributions to the promotion of democracy and human rights, and that includes its election observation efforts. We stand firmly behind those efforts throughout the OSCE region. We look forward to the final report after the conclusion of the referendum,” he said.__Hurriyet