The Turkish Referendum: European and American Responses
The Turkish President's razor-thin victory in the recent referendum over the expansion of presidential powers has been received with mixed reactions. Whereas U.S. President Donald Trump elected to congratulate Mr. Erdogan, the Europeans have been critical of the conduct of the referendum citing the campaign that overwhelmingly privileged the “yes” camp at the detriment of the opposition group. In this Ground Truth Briefing, we will not only explore the details regarding the conduct and impact of the referendum in Turkey, but also assess the implications for both U.S. and European interests. Join us BY PHONE as three analysts discuss the impact of the referendum on Turkey and the region.
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Henri J. Barkey
“This result is now being contested not just in the streets, but by the different political parties, which believe that the conditions preceding the referendum were exceedingly unfair… They were shut out of the press, they were shut out of the newspapers, and for the third largest party in parliament, the leaders were in jail. Journalists and others have also been in jail.”
“In Turkey, ever since 1946, elections have always been free and fair. This is the one institution that has withstood military coups and political instability… This is the first time that you have massive suspicion of the results. What this will do down the road to Turkish politics and Turkish democracy remains to be seen.”
“The leverage that the EU has on Turkey is no longer in the accession process, but through the economy… Brussels should attach political benchmarks to economic agreements.”
“Discussions between the EU and Turkey are in a totally different place thirteen years later – [and] the two side are further moving away from each other.”
Regarding President Trump’s congratulatory call to President Erdogan: “I suppose the Trump administration would say that we are not [concerned] about Turkey's internal affairs. Trump does not have a sentimental foreign policy; it’s all about realpolitik and it’s because Trump can throw a lifeline to Erdogan.”
“NATO is supposed to be an alliance of democracies… It doesn’t do the U.S. or NATO any favors to bless this fraudulent vote that took place on Sunday.”
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