Europeans respond cautiously to Turkey referendum

Europeans respond cautiously to Turkey referendum

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan greets his supporters as he leaves Eyup Sultan mosque in Istanbul, Turkey, Monday. — Reuters

BERLIN — Germany said on Monday the close result in Turkey›s referendum on expanding Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan›s powers was a big responsibility for him to bear and showed how divided Turkish society was. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel also said Turkish authorities needed to address concerns about the content and procedure of Sunday›s referendum raised by a panel of European legal experts. Merkel and Gabriel, whose country has about 3 million residents of Turkish background, said they noted the preliminary result showing a victory for the “Yes” camp. Official results are expected within 12 days. “The German government ... respects the right of Turkish citizens to decide on their own constitutional order,” they said in a statement. Germany›s comments were echoed in France, where President Francois Hollande said: “It›s up to the Turks and them alone to decide on how they organize their political institutions, but the published results show that Turkish society is divided about the planned deep reforms.” In a separate statement, France›s Foreign Ministry called on the Turkish government to respect the European Convention on Human Rights and its ban on the death penalty. Austria, which has repeatedly called for halting membership talks, called once more for them to stop. “We can›t just go back to the daily routine after the Turkey referendum. We finally need some honesty in the relationship between the EU and Turkey,” said Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz, adding the bloc should instead work on a “partnership agreement”. Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek told Reuters on Monday he expected the “noise” between Ankara and Europe should die down after the European elections cycle. The French vote for a new president begins next Sunday. Germany votes in September. — Reuters