May 13, 2017
President of the European Parliament’s Socialists & Democrats Group Gianni Pittella on Friday said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is closing the door to Europe, calling on him to immediately release all political prisoners.
Paying a two-day visit to Ankara, Pittella attended the trial of pro-Kurdish Democratic Peoples’ Party (HDP) Co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş, met with the other leading figures in the HDP and spoke with main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu.
Calling 100 cases launched against Demirtaş by Turkish authorities “not acceptable” in his statement following meetings in Ankara, Pittella said: “This repression of political opposition is happening alongside the mass imprisonment of journalists, judges, academics and soldiers, without charges and without any possibility of appeal.”
“We call on President Erdoğan to release Demirtas and all political prisoners immediately,” the S&D Group president said.
Recalling that the Socialists & Democrats have been the strongest supporters of Turkey’s European future and remain perhaps the last ones, Pittella underlined: “We still support this future. However, President Erdogan is making it impossible by turning Turkey into an increasingly authoritarian country. We are clear — Erdoğan is closing the door to Europe. For us democracy and human rights come first. ”