PACE head Gross calls on ErdoIan to change ‘violent, polarizing atmosphere’ in Turkey

Andreas Gross, the head of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), has called on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to change the and”violent, polarizing atmosphereand” in the country into a normal one after the Justice and Development Partyand’s (AK Party) victory in the election by re-establishing respect for media and opposition groups.
Speaking to Todayand’s Zaman on Monday, Gross said: and”The president has to understand that he profited from an extreme polarization [in the country]. He should now change the mood, change the atmosphere to a normal [one], a competitive but not a polarized [and] violent atmosphere.and”
Gross is part of a group of observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Parliamentary Assembly (OSCE PA), the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and PACE that presented their preliminary post-election report at a news conference in Ankara on Monday. The Nov. 1 general election in Turkey was marked by a challenging security environment, incidents of violence and restrictions against the media, according to these election observers.
Gross also said the Kurdish peace process needs to resume in Turkey, adding that, for him, it is the and”core of the violence.and”
He stressed, too, that Erdogan needs to re-establish respect for media that doesnand’t share his and his partyand’s views. and”Now, he has the power to change the atmosphere,and” Gross said.
When talking about the fairness of the Nov. 1 election, Gross said unfortunately, the campaign for the election was characterized by and”unfairness and, to a serious degree, fear.and”
Gross said the pro-Kurdish Peoplesand’ Democratic Party (HDP) has been the one most negatively affected as a and”victimand” of the violent atmosphere before the election. The Republican Peopleand’s Party (CHP) was also a victim of the negative atmosphere because it couldnand’t campaign as it did in past elections, Gross added.
and”Even the [Nationalist Movement Party] MHP is kind of a victim. Because they were victim of the social engineering [campaign] of the AK Party. Because the AK Party knew where they could get votes. Only from them [the MHP],and” said Gross.
The head of the PACE delegation said the AK Party is good at and”social engineeringand” and that it focused all its forces on the districts it lost in the previous election. and”But the price they pay, the people who died and people who were injured, this is incredible,and” he added.
h2 Bomb attacks in Ankara and Suruandch2 When asked about the effect of the bombing attacks in Ankara in early October that killed more than 100 people and injured hundreds and a July attack in Suruandc, a town near the Syrian border, that killed 34 people, Gross said he has doubts that the Turkish government hadnand’t received any information about the attacks before they happened.
He pointed out that Turkey has a strong security apparatus, a strong intelligence service and that it is difficult to imagine no one from the intelligence service had any knowledge about the preparation of these attacks. and”I donand’t say they [the government] did it or they helped it. But I wonder if they really did not know [about] it,and” Gross said.
When asked if he thinks the Turkish officials simply let the attacks happen, Gross replied: and”This is perhaps a little bit too much, but andhellip perhaps they did not know that it [the Ankara bomb] was so heavy. But they are responsible if they did not do anything they could to prevent that [from] happen[ing].and”
Gross said the attacks had a surprising effect on votersand’ behavior and stirred the fear of terrorism in people.
and”The main thing is there was only one person who was not happy with the result of the June 7 elections,and” Gross said, referring to President Erdogan. and”He created an atmosphere, he did everything for an atmosphere, because he knew that the more people are afraid, the more people are unsure, insecure, they tend [towards] authority. This is a fact from history, this is a way to influence people,and” said Gross, adding, and”And he paid a huge price, because thatand’s exactly how he divided the country.and” The effects of dividing the country will linger for a long time, Gross stated.
h2 Reports of manipulation of electionh2 Gross said he does not have the impression that the election results were manipulated. and”But in Turkey, you always hear such rumors. I donand’t think thatand’s the case,and” said Gross.
But he pointed out that the increase in participation to the election in favor of the AK Party should be carefully investigated. He said people need to know why these voters turned out this time but didnand’t in June.
Gross also stressed that there were a large number of small polling stations and about 1 million of people worked during the election. and”You canand’t manipulate so many people easily,and” he said.


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