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EU urges Turkey to probe referendum vote

21 April 2017

The referendum was seen as crucial not just for shaping Turkey's political system but also the future strategic direction of a nation that has been a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation member since 1952 and a European Union hopeful for half a century.

The move comes despite protests from opposition parties and global monitoring groups - as well as Trump's own State Department - about voting irregularities during Sunday's referendum.

Demonstrators in Istanbul's central Besiktas district chanted slogans, calling Erdogan a "murderer" and a "thief".

Meanwhile, parliament agreed to extend the state of emergency - already in place for nine months - for another three months to July 19.

The Turkish government has been widely condemned by Western nations for its repression of opposition figures following a failed military coup previous year. learnt that Erdogan won 51.3 per cent of the votes in a referendum on Sunday to grant him sweeping powers in the biggest overhaul of modern Turkish politics.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has congratulated Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on a referendum that will expand his powers, the Kremlin and Turkish state media said on April 18.

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Trump also thanked Turkey for supporting for USA missile strikes on an Assad regime air base in retaliation for the chemical attack, and both men stressed the need for cooperation in the fight against terror groups, including ISIL.

Asked about Erdogan's plans to reinstate the death penalty, the commission said such a move would end the country's European Union bid.

The EU's focus now is to decide the future of Turkey's EU accession negotiations, the official said. We will not consider, look, or recognise your political report. "We'll continue on our path. Talk to the hand". The "no" campaign said it faced intimidation and threats of violence, while opposition figures and journalists were jailed.

The Council of Europe - which also monitored the poll - said the vote "did not live up" its standards.

Speaking with USA Today, the University of Cambridge's Banu Turnaoglu said the election results show that in Turkey, "there's a very narrow understanding of democracy, because they supported these previous measures of authoritarianism".

Opposition parties called for the vote to be annulled because of a series of irregularities, particularly an electoral board decision to accept ballots that didn't bear official stamps, as required by Turkish law. Turkey's foreign ministry dismissed the observers' criticism as lacking objectivity and impartiality. In an address to politicians from his ruling party, he said the people had voted to switch from a parliamentary to a presidential system, adding: "The opposition should not speak after the people have spoken".

The vote comes in the wake of a coup attempt a year ago, after which President Erdogan initiated a highly controversial crackdown on political dissent. And Erdogan's cooperation in limiting the flow of Syrian refugees matters a lot to our European allies. He vowed Turkey's recent incursion into northern Syria would not be its last such venture in the region, saying it would carry out as many military operations as necessary, wherever necessary, in its fight against terrorism.

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"They have a right to have elections and their people participated in that", Spicer said.

The main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) deputy leader Bulent Tezcan formally requested that the Supreme Election Board (YSK) cancel the result.

The retired general also had more advice for the administration just days after Trump approved military strikes on Syria and the USA military dropped America's most powerful non-nuclear bomb on ISIS targets in Afghanistan. The vote also allows Erdogan to run for two terms as president, meaning he could stay in power until 2029. "Because, the Yes votes also became controversial through this decision", he said.

"Saying the referendum fell below global standards is unacceptable", the ministry said in a statement, adding that previous "politically charged" comments from OSCE monitors showed the team arrived in Turkey with prejudice and disregarded principles of objectivity and impartiality. Relations with Europe were strained during the referendum campaign when Germany and the Netherlands barred Turkish ministers from holding rallies.

But even the State Department managed to show some spine in response to Erdogan's dubious triumph, calling on Turkey to uphold human rights, "as guaranteed by the Turkish Constitution and in accordance with Turkey's global commitments".

Speaking at a press conference in Brussels, the commission's spokesman added: "As far as the future is concerned, as President Juncker has said in the past, we encourage Turkey to move closer to the European Union again and not to move even further and faster away from us".

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