EU says Turkish vote reaffirms people's 'strong' democratic commitment

People waving flags outside the AK Party headquarters in Ankara, Turkey on Nov 1, 2015.
People waving flags outside the AK Party headquarters in Ankara, Turkey on Nov 1, 2015. PHOTO: REUTERS

BRUSSELS (AFP) - The European Union said on Monday (Nov 2) it looked forward to working with the new Turkish government after elections showed the people's "strong commitment" to democracy as it waited for an international report on the vote.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Justice and Development Party (AKP) won Sunday's vote by a landslide, taking 316 seats in the 550-member parliament to easily form a government on its own after it lost its majority in a June ballot.

"Sunday's general elections in Turkey, which had a high voter turnout, have reaffirmed the strong commitment of the Turkish people to democratic processes," said a statement issued by EU foreign affairs head Federica Mogherini and EU Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn.

"The EU will work together with the future government in order to further enhance the EU-Turkey partnership and to continue to advance our cooperation across all areas for the benefit of all citizens," they said.

At the same time, the brief statement, which did not mention Erdogan or the AKP, said the EU would look forward to a report on the conduct of the elections by international monitors.

"We look forward to the OSCE's/ODIHR's preliminary findings and conclusions which will be presented on Monday," it said, without elaborating.

Only last week, Brussels had voiced concerns about a "worrying" crackdown on a press group linked to a bitter rival of Erdogan and urged Ankara to respect media freedoms in the run-up to the poll.

"We want to reiterate the importance of respect of the rule of law and media freedom," Catherine Ray, spokeswoman for Mogherini, said on Wednesday.

"We expect this election to be in line with international and democratic standards," Ray added.

Critics and the domestic opposition said Erdogan was manipulating a press crackdown and a bloody new campaign against Kurdish rebels to win over voters frightened by an upsurge of violence.

Erdogan rejected the charges, saying he alone could ensure national security at a time when the Syrian conflict has stoked regional tensions and forced more than two million refugees to seek safety in Turkey.

Turkey is a candidate country for EU membership but accession talks have stalled, largely on reservations in the bloc over its human rights record.

With the migrant crisis in Europe deepening, Brussels has sought Erdogan's help in controlling the flood of refugees landing on Greece's shores from Turkey.