Bulgaria backs EU’s ‘grave concern’ about Turkey’s arrests of HDP members

Bulgaria backs EU’s ‘grave concern’ about Turkey’s arrests of HDP members

Bulgaria’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has issued a statement backing the position of EU leaders expressing “grave concern” about the arrests by Turkish authorities of the co-leaders and several members of the pro-Kurdish HDP party.

Bulgaria reaffirmed its support for the November 4 statement by EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and European Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn, expressing concern that the arrests may lead to a deterioration of the security situation in the country.

This was particularly worrying at a time when thousands of Bulgarian citizens were to exercise their right to vote in the Republic of Turkey in the November 2016 Bulgarian elections for President and Vice President and the national referendum, the Foreign Ministry in Sofia said.

As a neighbouring country, Bulgaria, in constant co-ordination with other EU member states, will closely monitor the situation in Turkey and expects the foundations of parliamentary democracy to be preserved.

HDP joint leaders Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ are accused of spreading propaganda for militants fighting the Turkish state, the BBC reported.

They and 10 other HDP activists deny links to the PKK Kurdish rebel group.

All were arrested for refusing to answer prosecutors’ questions, the BBC said.

The Mogherini-Hahn statement said that the EU was gravely concerned about the detention of several HDP Members of the Turkish Grand National Assembly on charges alleging support of terrorist activities. Among those detained are the party’s co-chairs Yüksekdağ and Demirtaş, “both democratically elected leaders and our trusted and valued interlocutors”.

“These developments add to the concerns we expressed after the immunity of more than 130 democratically elected Members of Parliament was lifted in May this year. They compromise parliamentary democracy in Turkey and exacerbate the already very tense situation in the South East of the country, for which there can only be a political solution,” Mogherini and Hahn said.

The EU considers actions against PKK, listed as a terrorist organisation also by the EU, as legitimate. At the same time the EU believes that such actions must never undermine the basic principles of democracy, the statement said.

“We expect Turkey to safeguard its parliamentary democracy, including respect for human rights and the rule of law, and we are conveying these expectations directly to the Turkish authorities. Together with the Council of Europe, the EU will continue to follow and assess the situation very closely, in constant coordination with all member states,” the Mogherini-Hahn statement said./IBNA