Parliamentary Elections in Turkey: Statement to the PC

The United States followed with interest the parliamentary elections in Turkey on June 7. We, like others, noted the high level of citizen engagement, as over fifty million Turkish citizens exercised their right to vote and tens of thousands of volunteers observed the polls on election day — thereby demonstrating the enduring vitality of Turkey’s democracy. We look forward to working with the future government to continue our close political, economic and security partnership with Turkey and our strong bonds with the people of Turkey.

Turkey has often spoken out in support of women’s political participation and gender equality in this forum. In that respect, we noted that the number of women serving in the new parliament will be more than 20 percent higher than in the previous parliament. A number of candidates who come from minority groups in Turkey also won seats to represent diverse constituencies.

We would like to recognize the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe for their combined effort to provide an international election observation mission to Turkey. Together, they released a preliminary report on June 8, which highlighted active citizen participation in the campaign and on election day, and Turkey’s commitment to democratic elections. The report noted that fundamental freedoms were generally respected, but expressed serious concern that media and journalists critical of the ruling party were subject to pressure and intimidation during the campaign. The report also noted that Turkey’s ten percent parliamentary threshold limits political pluralism.

The United States looks forward to ODIHR’s final report and recommendations, and encourages Turkey to work with ODIHR to implement its recommendations to the fullest extent possible, as we agreed in Istanbul in 1999.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

As delivered by Ambassador Daniel B. Baer to the Permanent Council, Vienna