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Harsh statement from OSCE: If recommendations are not implemented, we may not return to Turkey

Tana De Zulueta, The President of the OSCE / ODIHR  which observed constitutional amendment referendum, which was held on April 16th in Turkey, questioned what kind of stance they could take if Turkey did not accept their final report and replied, “The OSCE may decide that it is not suitable to return in a country where its recommendations are not implemented.”

Tana de Zulueta, in Italy’s capital Rome and Foreign Capital Press Association, responded the critics from Turkey on OSCEs preliminary reports on referendum.

As a delegation of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) , Turkey is a founding member of OSCE also, De Zulueta said that 60 people from 13 different nationalities were working on the referendum, emphasizing that a limited observer mission was deployed in this country because there were no serious problems in the previous elections.

De Zulueta argued that the referendum was held in “enormous unequal” conditions against “no” voters, saying that the “yes” side had extraordinary advantages and that the “lion’s share” of the media appearances was President Erdogan’s.

The Italian observer also said that Turkey, which they have been serving in the previous general elections, invited them in the referendum even though it was not a must.

We had our shares of terror accusations”

De Zulueta, who said that the “Yes” side not only had advantage in the media and that the business world holding most of the media groups has clearly given their support, saying also that the governors of many cities did not let opposition to have the opportunity to conduct anti-campaigns. “The nay sayers were declared as terrorist supporters and that continued until the end of the campaign. From this, we observers also got our share “as he continued with a laugh.

Tana De Zulueta added that this situation does not prevent them from doing their jobs.

De Zulueta also explained that they were asked leave the polls in some regions and tried to solve it by calling the ministry, but in some cases the completion of the observation was blocked.

“YSK’s decision has compromised all process”

De Zulueta reminded that the Turkish government accused them of supporting terrorists, and when asked “Do you think that you would go if Turkey invite you again in the next elections?” said; “I think we will go. It’s not up to me. However, it is going to be important to have international observers in the next elections in Turkey.”

Tana De Zulueta also voiced the fact that the Supreme Election Board’s (YSK) declaration on acceptance of unsealed ballot papers and envelopes after opening the ballot boxes and changing the rules of game after it started created an “uncertainty” and compromised the whole process.

 “We might not return Turkey if hey not accept our recommendations”

Tana De Zulueta, reminded that President Erdoğan described the OSCE’s preliminary report as “political” and not going to accept it,  and asked, “If Turkey does not accept your final report, what kind of attitude do you put forth?“,  he said “We have no other instrument other than convincing. The OSCE may also decide that it is not appropriate to return to a country to in which its recommendation does not apply. However, in a country with many problems, It may be the case when the opposition parties, and the civil society, call as ‘we need the international observers’.”

The international observer also said that the final report will be published 8 weeks after the voting date.

“I don’t think that Turkey would leave the OSCE”

De Zulueta asked whether the OSCE could officially take Turkey out of membership or if any other sanctions could be imposed to a member country which does not follow the recommendations, and said “We do not have such a sanction mechanism. The countries themselves can be withdrawn from membership. I think that Turkey will continue to be involved in this organization and I see that Turkey is willing to do so.”

De Zulueta said that they are going to pay attention to opposition parties legal objections and their consequences while completing the final report. “We will mention of the nature and level of debate,” he said.

YSK chair said, “I’ll see you next elections”

Tana De Zulueta about when he presented the preliminary report to YSK, what sort of attitude they had with them, “We had a long talk with the President, there were points we did not agree with. He sent us off with the wish to ‘meeting in the next elections’. “

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