Turks across Europe vote on Turkey’s constitutional referendum

By Abdul Ruff

Against will and wishes of most European countries, seeking to destabilize islamist government in Istanbul, Turks in European continent have gone to  vote on Turkey’s constitutional referendum to strengthen the presidency so that no more  coup attempts could take place in the country to  kill the president or destabilize the nation as Germany and USA have apparently spearheaded the  recent failed coup attempt.

Too much of democracy seems to have spoiled the Turkey’s efforts to make the system work in an open manner and also have threatened the life of president Erdogan and weaken the nation. There has been a hidden effort in a sustained manner by anti-Islamic nations and Israel to weaken Turkey for its support for Islamic system and for the Palestine cause.

On March 30 Turks and Kurds across Europe began voting on proposed changes to the Turkish constitution on Monday, as Germany accused the Turkish government of “unacceptable” spying on dissidents in the country. Around 3 million Turks I live in 6 European states. Turkish expats in Netherlands (261,000) (Germany (1.42 ml), Austria (171,000), Belgium (136000), France (323,000)), Switzerland, and Denmark went to the polls to vote on whether to grant extra powers to the Turkish presidency along with a host of other reforms. Turkey itself is set to vote on 16 April.

Polls took place in 1 20 Turkish missions in 57 countries world wide.  Germany hosts the largest Turkish Diaspora in the world and the 1.41 million eligible Turkish voters in the country have been a crucial demographic for the Justice and Development party (AKP) government.

As voting began, it was reported that Turkey’s National Intelligence Agency had given Germany’s foreign intelligence service a list of names of hundreds of supposed supporters of exiled cleric Fetulleh Gulen living now in Germany. Earlier he lived in USA.

Turkey blames Gulen for a failed coup attempt last year and has sought to have alleged plotters repatriated to face trial. Thousands of alleged Gulen supporters have been arrested in Turkey since the July coup attempt. Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere, speaking in Passau in southern Germany, said he was not surprised by the report and added that the lists would be looked at individually. “We have told Turkey several times that such activity is not acceptable,” he said. Regardless of what you think of the Gulen movement, German law applies here and citizens who live here won’t be spied on by foreign states.

The ruling Justice and Development party (AKP) is very popular in Turkey. In the most recent parliamentary elections in 2015, German-Turks voted overwhelmingly for the AKP. Voting is open at the Turkish consulate in Berlin between 27 March and 9 April, when the sealed ballot boxes will be flown to Ankara for the count on 16 April. Other countries are set to begin voting in the coming weeks. British-Turks, who largely support the opposition People’s Democracy Party (HDP), begin voting on 6 April.

Turkey has warned Europeans not to interfere in the referendum, although German politicians have waded into the campaign.

Elmar Brok, a member of the European Parliament’s European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) and chairman of the parliament’s committee on foreign affairs, was among those calling for German Turks to vote “No” in the referendum. “I advise Turkish citizens to use their vote against the constitutional changes, vote for freedom,” said Broke.

The leader of the left-wing Die Linke party went further, accusing Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of being a “godfather of terror”, referring to a speech by the president last week in which he warned that Europeans would not be able to “walk safely in the streets” if they continued their current policies. “This is a call to terrorism, this is how a terrorist speaks. Nothing else,” said Sahra Wagenknecht, speaking at an event at the German parliament on Monday.

Mimicking Erdogan’s own rhetoric against Germany, she made parallels with Nazi Germany, saying the statement “clearly points to the foreign policy of the Third Reich, by creating minorities in other countries, it’s trying to establish its own violent policies, its own geopolitics and its own blackmail policy in other countries.”

Bans on some campaign rallies by Turkish officials in Germany and the Netherlands provoked accusations of Nazism by Erdogan. On Tuesday, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim warned Europe not to interfere with the referendum process saying it should “mind its own business”.

A minister from the state of Lower Saxony on Tuesday also accused Turkey of “unacceptable” spying on alleged followers of Gulen. “It is notable with what intensity and ruthlessness the people living abroad are being investigated,” said Boris Pistorius, interior minister of the northern German state of Lower Saxony.  But Lower Saxony decided instead to inform the more than 10 targets, including a school and at least two companies, fearing people could suffer “retaliation” if they travelled to Turkey while unaware they were on a watch list.

Turkish authorities were acting with “something close to paranoia,” she said, adding that “all Gulen supporters are assumed to be terrorists and enemies of the state even though there is not the tiniest scrap of evidence. “Until today, we have no evidence whatsoever that Gulen supporters have violated any rules in any way.”

Anti-Islamic world is entirely bent upon removing Islamist leader President Erdogan and dismantle the Islamist regime

Earlier, President Tayyip Erdogan said that Turkey may hold a second referendum on whether to continue with European Union accession talks, after a planned vote on 16 April that could give him sweeping new powers. “Right now we are holding a referendum on April 16 and after that we could choose to do a second one on the [EU] accession talks and we would abide by whatever our people would say there,” Erdogan told a joint forum with Britain in the southern city of Antalya.

His comments came a day after he vowed to review all political and administrative ties with the EU, including a deal to curb illegal migration.

Turkey’s relations with the EU countries have soured over the past few months after Germany and the Netherlands cancelled campaign rallies on their territories by Turkish officials seeking to drum up support among expatriate Turks for a “yes” vote in the April referendum.

Both countries cited security concerns for their decisions, but Erdogan has accused them of using “Nazi methods” and trampling on free speech, comments infuriating several EU governments and deepening the row. “Turkey has waited at the door of the EU for 54 years,” he said, referring to 1963 when Ankara partnered up with the bloc’s then economic union.

Turkey’s accession talks with the EU began in 2005 but have progressed at a snail’s pace amid concerns over its human rights record, ethnically split Cyprus, and reluctance among some European countries to admit a largely Muslim nation.

Turkey is also an integral part of a deal to keep hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants fleeing the Middle East and beyond from moving to Europe, in return for EU financial aid to Ankara.

Another contentious issue is the death penalty, which the Turkish president said again on Saturday he would approve if it was passed by parliament and brought to him. “What if the death penalty is for the 249 people killed, Turkey has no place in Europe. Oh, let it not be,” he said, referring to the number of people killed during last July’s failed coup.

Turkey abolished the death penalty in 2004 as part of its bid to join the EU. Brussels has repeatedly made clear that any move to bring it back would scupper Turkey’s efforts to join the bloc.

On 20 January 2017, Parliament voted to put forward the proposed amendments to a referendum with 339 votes in favour, surpassing the required three-fifths majority of 330 votes. The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) declared that they would seek to annul the parliamentary vote through the Constitutional Court, citing irregularities such as open voting and intimidation of MPs during the voting process. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan declared the referendum date as 16 April 2017.

A constitutional referendum was held in Turkey on 16 April 2017. Voters voted on a set of 18 proposed amendments to the Constitution of Turkey. The amendments have long been suggested by the governing Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and its leader, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım, as well as being agreed to by the opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). The amendments include the introduction of an executive presidency that would replace the existing parliamentary system of government, the abolition of the Office of the Prime Minister, the raising of the number of seats in Parliament from 550 to 600 and changes in the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK).

Proposals for constitutional reform were initially announced by the AK Party following their victory in the 2011 general election, but were pushed back after the all-party parliamentary constitutional committee was unable to reach a consensus. Following the election of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as President in 2014, proposals for constitutional reform and an executive presidency gained strength and were key AKP policy proposals in both the June 2015 general election and the November 2015 snap general election.

On 24 May 2016, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu was succeeded by Binali Yıldırım, with the former having resigned allegedly due to disagreements with Erdoğan regarding constitutional change that would reduce the powers or eliminate the Office of the Prime Minister. In October 2015, the MHP, which have historically been opposed to an executive presidency, called on the government to bring forward their proposals to Parliament, with party leader Devlet Bahçeli announcing that he would co-operate in the drafting process. The AK Party and MHP reached an agreement regarding a proposed new constitution on 8 December after a month of negotiations, beginning the parliamentary process of initiating a referendum on the proposals.

The hate politics of European nations against European Islamic Turkey clearly reveals the real hatred in Europe against Islam and Muslims. Israel very tactfully exploited and fueled the anti-Islamic sentiments among Europeans and Americans to  hit the besieged Palestinians and   target Arab nations and Iran.

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Abdul Ruff

Dr. Abdul Ruff is an independent analyst; columnist contributing articles to many newspapers and journals on world politics; expert on Mideast affairs, chronicler of foreign occupations & freedom movements (Palestine, Kashmir, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Xinjiang, Chechnya, etc.); Chancellor-Founder of Center for International Affairs (CIA); commentator on world affairs & sport fixings, former university teacher and author of eBooks/books

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