Thursday, February 11, 2016

US does not view Turkey's Elections "Fair and Free"

DPB # 24
Briefer: Mark Toner, DeputySpokesperson 

My Qs & As w Spox Mark Toner re recent OSCE Report on Turkey Elections. Toner does NOT use "fair and free" when comes to defining Turkey's November 1st elections even if given chances to do so. 

QUESTION: Okay. OSCE report on Turkey’s election in November just came out. At the time, you avoided making any kind of comments regarding elections. Now that you have seen this building has seen the report --
MR TONER: You’re talking about the OSCE report? 

QUESTION: OSCE report on Turkey’s elections in November.
MR TONER: Yeah. Yep. So we note the OSCE’s final report, obviously on the November 1st, 2015 elections, and it highlights that Turkey offered voters a variety of choices, but that the challenging security environment, violent attacks against party members and on party premises, and restrictions on media freedom had hindered campaigning and the free flow of information to the public.
So at the time of the elections, OSCE released a statement of preliminary findings highlighting that the elections offered voters a variety of choices, but that restrictions on media freedom remain a serious concern. We reiterated our own concerns that media outlets and individual freedoms or individual, rather, journalists critical of the government were subject to pressure and intimidation during the campaign, seemingly in a manner calculated to weaken political opposition. And that view has not changed with the final OSCE report.

QUESTION: And the same report says that Turkey has not fulfilled its obligations as an OSCE member and it has not conducted this elections on fair and free basis and international standards. So can you now tell us that Turkey conducted these elections on not fair and free conditions according to this report?
MR TONER: Well, I think – I’ll just put it this way: We’ve been very clear in our discussions with Turkish officials at all levels our concerns about freedom of the press and freedom of speech, freedom of assembly. We’ve urged the Turkish Government to ensure its actions uphold its democratic universal democratic values, consistent with international law and commitments that are enshrined in Turkey’s constitution.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)
QUESTION: Clearly, you cannot define these elections as fair and free, so can you tell Turkish democracy is still strong and vibrant as you have mentioned recently if they cannot hold fair and free elections? 

MR TONER: I’ll just say we’ve been very clear, the OSCE final report was very clear where our concerns lie. I don’t need to repeat them now, and I’ll stop there.
QUESTION: Thank you.

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