Turkey: Turkish MEP’s expulsion from Belgian party incompatible with democracy

Turkey has expressed dismay and concern over the expulsion of Mahinur andOzdemir, a Humanist Democratic Centre (CDH) deputy of Turkish descent, from her party in Belgium after she refused to call the 1915 killings of Armenians a genocide, saying that the act is inherently incompatible with democratic principles.
andquotWe approach this decision of the party, which contradicts democratic principles in Belgium, where a democratic tradition is deeply entrenched, with bewilderment,andquot the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
The statement said the expulsion of an elected deputy from her party not only ignores freedom of expression, one of the key tenets of Europeand’s core values, but also wonand’t help the integration of almost 220,000 Belgian citizens of Turkish origin living in Belgium.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry emphasized that such acts sow the seeds of division in society and only exacerbate, not solve, integration problems in Europe, and called on the Belgian party and other Belgian institutions to avoid acts that could create polarization in society.
A statement from the CDH said on Friday that andOzdemir was expelled from the party for acting against the partyand’s and”deontologicaland” bylaws, which recognize the killings as genocide.
andOzdemir is a deputy of Turkish heritage who was sworn into the parliament of the Brussels-Capital Region on June 23, 2009. She attracted a significant amount of attention from Turkey and the West for winning a seat as the youngest deputy in parliament and as a visible Muslim at a time when Islamophobia was on the rise throughout the continent. She is also the first headscarf-wearing deputy in Belgium.
The 1915 mass killings of Ottoman Armenians during the final days of the empire remain a contentious issue, with Ankara rejecting the term genocide. Armenians claim that Ottoman forces systematically killed more than 1 million Armenians in a way that was tantamount to genocide. Turkey insists that the killings do not amount to genocide as they took place during inter-communal strife when the empire was locked in a battle for survival during World War I. The events are described as a genocide by the Armenian diaspora and more than 20 countries.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman