The Latest: Turkish leader gets call from Trump after vote
ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — The Latest on Turkey’s referendum on presidential powers (all times local):
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s office says the Turkish leader has received a congratulatory telephone call from President Donald Trump following his country’s referendum on expanding presidential powers.
Turkish voters narrowly approved constitutional reforms in a vote Sunday that will change the country’s system of government from a parliamentary to a presidential one. Opposition parties have cited a series of irregularities and called for the vote to be annulled.
A statement issued by Erdogan’s office early Tuesday said Trump called Erdogan following the vote to offer congratulations on his victory. The statement said the two also discussed recent developments in Syria, which borders Turkey, and touched upon the U.S. response to the April 4 chemical attack on Syria’s Idlib province.
The U.S. launched airstrikes against a government air base from where the attack was believed to have been launched in retaliation. Erdogan has for years called for Assad to be removed from power.
Turkey’s Council of Ministers has decided to extend for a further three months a state of emergency declared in the wake of a failed July 2016 coup.
Government spokesman Numan Kurtulmus made the announcement Monday, saying the extension would come into effect from April 19, when the previous state of emergency was to expire. The decision will now go to parliament for approval.
The state of emergency includes the granting of greater powers to security forces in detentions and arrests.
Kurtulmus said that combatting terror organizations “must continue without mercy.” He mentioned the followers of Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen, who lives in the U.S. and who the Turkish government has blamed for the failed coup. Turkey considers Gulen’s movement a terrorist organization.
Turkey’s National Security Council is recommending an extension to the state of emergency, declared following a failed coup last summer.
The council announced its recommendation “to ensure the continuity of precautions to protect the principle of the state of law and the rights and freedoms of our citizens.” It didn’t specify a timeframe. The state of emergency was to expire April 19.
The move comes a day after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan narrowly won a referendum on expanding his powers.
Turkey imposed the state of emergency to crack down on the network of U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, accused of orchestrating the July 15 coup attempt. Gulen denies any involvement.
If approved, it will be the third extension of the state of emergency in Turkey.
Turkey’s president has renewed suggestions that the country could hold referendums on its bid to join the European Union and on reinstating the death penalty.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan made the comment while addressing supporters in Ankara a day after winning a referendum on expanding the powers of his office.
Erdogan said he isn’t concerned about possible EU objections to Turkey’s restoring capital punishment.
He accused the EU of keeping Turkey “waiting at the gates for 54 years,” adding that a referendum could be held on whether Turkey should proceed with the accession process.
Erdogan said that “the decision is the people’s. We’d go to our nation.”
Hundreds of people are demonstrating in two separate neighborhoods of Istanbul, protesting a narrow win for President Recep Tayip Erdogan in a referendum granting him greater powers.
Holding banners reading “No, We will win” and chanting “thief, murderer, Erdogan,” demonstrators marched through the neighborhoods of Besiktas on the European side of Istanbul and Kadikoy on the Asian side.
Opposition parties have called for the referendum to be annulled, complaining of a series of irregularities in the vote.
An electoral board decision to allow as valid more than a million ballots cast without the official stamp has caused particular outrage. An international electoral monitoring mission from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe also reported a series of irregularities, and said the electoral board decision undermined safeguards against fraud.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has rejected international monitors’ criticisms of Turkey’s referendum, insisting the vote was the “most democratic election” seen in any Western country.
Addressing supporters outside his palace in Ankara, Erdogan said Monday that Turkey would ignore the findings of the OSCE monitors.
Erdogan said: “First, know your place! We won’t see or hear the politically motivated reports you prepare.”
The monitors said the procedures used in the vote on expanding the president’s powers “fell short” of international standards. They also said a Turkish electoral board decision to allow as valid ballots that did not bear official stamps undermined important safeguards against fraud.
Unofficial results have shown a narrow win for Erdogan, who had backed the “yes” side.
German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel says despite a landmark referendum in Turkey that will grant sweeping new powers to the nation’s president, Turkey should not leave NATO.
Gabriel told German daily Bild on Monday that “we want to keep Turkey close and not push it into isolation when it comes to foreign affairs or even into the direction of Russia.”
Regarding the country’s bid for European Union membership, Gabriel said, “It’s up to Turkey ... Turkey should not distance itself further from Europe, also in its own interest.”
The foreign minister was also concerned that the Turkish referendum led to a political polarization of Turks living in Germany.
Gabriel condemned Turkey’s disruptive influence on Germany’s 3 million Turkish immigrants, saying “we will not allow a division of the society in Germany.”
Turkey’s Foreign Ministry has rejected international monitors’ findings on its referendum, saying it was “saddened” by what it called “politically-motivated and accusatory” statements.
In a statement Monday, the Foreign Ministry said the observer mission’s findings that the referendum procedures “fell short” of international standards “were unacceptable.”
The statement alleged the OSCE observer mission had “arrived in Turkey with prejudices and ignored the principles of objectivity and neutrality.”
The monitoring group earlier Monday cited a series of irregularities in the referendum Sunday, including a skewed pro-vote campaign. The group also said a Turkish electoral board decision allowing as valid ballots that did not bear official stamps undermined important safeguards against fraud.
The United States is urging Turkey’s government to protect basic rights and freedoms as Turkish officials work to resolve the contested results of a referendum on increasing the president’s powers.
U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner is pointing to concerns raised by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which monitored the Turkish referendum Sunday. He says Monday there were irregularities both on voting day and during the campaign that led to an “uneven playing field” for the “no” side.
The OSCE has criticized a Turkish electoral board decision to allow ballots that did not bear official stamps, saying that undermined efforts to fight fraud.
Unofficial results have shown a narrow win for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who had backed the “yes” side.
The U.S. says it’s calling on supporters and opponents of the vote’s results to work together and keep talking while the OSCE finished it report on the vote.
The leader of a Turkish group in Germany has expressed concern that so many Turkish immigrants in the country have voted in favor of expanding Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s powers in a referendum.
Gokay Sofuoglu from the Turkish Community in Germany association told German news agency dpa on Monday “it’s alarming, that so many people of the second and third generation of guest workers living in Germany have voted for a system that spurns all democratic rights.”
According to Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency, 63.1 percent of the Turks in Germany voted in favor of Erdogan’s plans to greatly expand his presidential powers. Overall in Turkey, 51.4 percent of voters cast a “yes” ballot, while the “no” vote saw 48.6 percent support.
Some 1.4 million of the 3 million people of Turkish origin in Germany were eligible to vote.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says he was forced to put a tough fight against the “powerful nations of the world” who opposed his campaign for a yes vote in a referendum to expand the powers of his office.
Addressing supporters at Ankara airport Monday on his arrival from Istanbul, Erdogan said he was “attacked” by nations with the “crusader mentality” as well as by their supporters inside Turkey.
It was not clear if he was aiming at European nations, including Germany and the Netherlands, where authorities restricted government ministers’ plans to hold campaign rallies to court Turkish expatriate votes.
Erdogan said: “We did not give in, we did not give up. As a nation we stood strong.”
Italy’s foreign minister is calling for Turkish opposition forces to be involved in reforms following the weekend’s referendum, which revealed Turkey to be heavily divided.
Angelino Alfano in a written statement Monday also called for a “cooling of internal tensions.”
Alfano said Italy takes note of the referendum outcome and is awaiting the “final evaluation of the observers” by international monitoring bodies.
The minister added: “In the meantime, coherent with Turkey’s membership in the Council of Europe, we are hoping for a cooling of internal tensions in the country, and, in addition, involvement of the opposition in the implementation path of the reforms.”
An observer mission that has been monitoring the Turkish referendum campaign and vote on expanding presidential powers says the procedures used “fell short” of international standards.
Tana de Zuleta of the OSCE said Monday that a Turkish electoral board decision to allow as valid ballots that did not bear official stamps undermined important safeguards against fraud.
The monitoring group described a series of irregularities in the referendum, including a skewed pre-vote campaign in favor of the “yes” vote, intimidation of the “no” campaign and the fact that the referendum question was not listed on the ballot.
Unofficial results have shown a narrow win for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who had advocated the ‘yes’ vote.
De Zuleta of the OSCE said the procedures “fell short of full adherence” to the standards Turkey has signed up for.
An official of Turkey’s governing party says they will invite President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to rejoin the party that he co-founded.
The deputy chairman of the AKP, Mustafa Elitas, told private broadcaster NTV Monday, “It would be a great honor if he accepts it.”
Erdogan had to give up his party leadership when he was elected president in 2014 because of a law that requires the country’s president to be independent of a party.
Under one of the constitutional amendments approved in Sunday’s referendum, that law has been annulled.
Elitas said the membership invitation would come after election results are published in the Official Gazette, expected in 10-11 days.
“It’s a truly important event that he’s a member of the party he is a leader and founder of,” Elitas said.
Germany’s foreign minister says the European Union should draft a new strategy and look for new formats of negotiations with Turkey.
Sigmar Gabriel spoke on Monday in Tirana, where he was to meet with senior Albanian officials.
Gabriel said that, though many EU member countries may be “rigorous (in their stand on Turkey) due to their domestic policies,” Brussels should intensively work to find the channels of dialogue on “how to impact so that Turkey remains a democratic country.”
Gabriel said the EU would first wait for the opinion of international observers of Turkey’s referendum, adding that “We will be able to assist Turkey in its economic development only if it remains a democracy” and not if it reintroduces the death penalty.
French President Francois Hollande says the Turkish referendum results show a divided nation and is urging Turkish authorities to respect opposition voices and European values.
Hollande said in a statement Monday that France “takes note” of accusations of substantial voting irregularities in Sunday’s referendum giving Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sweeping powers.
While the French leader said “it’s up to Turks, and them alone, to decide their political organization,” he added that France will “follow with the greatest attention” outside observers’ evaluations of whether the vote was free and fair.
The French leader warned that if Turkey reinstates the death penalty, that would “constitute a rupture” with Turkey’s pledges to respect human rights as part of efforts to join European institutions.
A day after winning a referendum on expanding the president’s powers, Turkey’s government is focused on extending a controversial state of emergency by a further three months.
Turkey’s National Security Council is scheduled to meet on Monday to recommend renewing the state of emergency, which expires on April 19. It would be followed by a Cabinet meeting chaired by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan where the recommendation is expected to be endorsed.
Turkey declared the state of emergency to facilitate its crackdown on the network of followers of U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Turkey blames for the a failed coup attempt in July.
Critics say the government has used the emergency powers to jail other opponents.
More than 40,000 people have been arrested and an estimated 100,000 people have been purged from government jobs under the state of emergency.
A leading German lawmaker has called on Turkish immigrants to show more commitment to Germany’s democratic values after a clear majority of the 1.4 million Turkish immigrants who were eligible to vote in the Turkish referendum cast their ballot in favor of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
According to state-run Anadolu Agency, 63.07 percent of the Turks in Germany voted in favor of Erdogan’s plans to greatly expand the powers of his office.
Cem Ozdemir, one of the heads of the Green Party and a son of Turkish immigrants himself, told German news agency dpa on Monday the strong support for Erdogan was also the result of decades of failed integration policies in Germany, which as a society never gave Turks a sense of fully belonging.
A Greek Cypriot official says that irrespective of the outcome of Turkey’s referendum on expanding presidential powers, the Cyprus government is hopeful that Turkey will “positively and effectively” contribute to ongoing talks aimed at reunifying the ethnically divided island.
Cyprus government spokesman Nicos Christodoulides told The Associated Press Monday that it’s hoped Turkey’s stance will move the peace talks forward toward the stated goal of reunifying the island as a federation.
Christodoulides said Turkey should refrain from throwing up obstacles to the process, like making the “unacceptable demand” of granting Turkish citizens the right to relocate and transfer money, services and goods to Cyprus as part of any peace deal.
The spokesman added that Turkey should also cease making “provocative statements” in opposition to the island’s offshore oil and gas search.
Cyprus peace talks resumed last week after a two-month halt that diminished trust and drained momentum from the process.
Cyprus was split in 1974 when Turkey invaded following a coup by supporters of union with Greece.
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has called on the country’s electoral board to cancel Sunday’s referendum that approved a proposal to grant sweeping powers to the nation’s president.
Bulent Tezcan, deputy chairman of the party known by its Turkish acronym CHP, cited irregularities in the conduct of the vote.
He said there was “only one way to end the discussions about the vote’s legitimacy and to put the people at ease, and that is for the Supreme Electoral Board to cancel the vote.”
The board’s unprecedented decision to accept as valid ballots that didn’t bear the official stamp has led to outrage among opposition parties.
Tezcan said it was not possible for authorities to determine how many ballot papers may have been irregularly cast.
Bulent Tezcan, deputy chairman of Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party, is citing irregularities in Sunday’s referendum which approved constitutional changes that will grant the country’s president greater powers.
The party has said it will contest the result of the referendum.
Tezcan told reporters in Ankara Monday that counting of the ballots initially took place in secret in several polling stations. He said observers were not allowed to watch the proceedings for at least 1½ hours until the party’s complaint was accepted.
He also said an unprecedented decision by the country’s electoral board to accept as valid ballots that didn’t bear the official stamp was taken following a complaint by an official from the governing party.
“It was implemented at a moment when it was felt that the no votes were ahead of the yes votes,” Tezcan said.
Germany has called on the Turkish government to engage in a “respectful dialogue with all political and civilian forces of the country” after “the narrow outcome of the referendum showed how deeply Turkish society is divided.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said in a joint statement Sunday the German government respects the Turkish people’s right to decide over their constitution. But the two German leaders also said that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan carries “big responsibility” for the country’s next steps.
They pointed out that the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe had already last week expressed doubt about the whether the conditions for the vote were fair. Merkel and Gabriel said that Turkey — as an OSCE member and European Union candidate country — needs to consider these concerns.
The head of Turkey’s electoral board has rejected suggestions of fraud in Turkey’s referendum that will grant the president vast new powers.
Two opposition parties have complained of a number of irregularities in Sunday’s vote, including an electoral board decision to accept as valid ballots that did not bear the official stamp.
Sadi Guven, who heads the Supreme Electoral Board, defended the decision, telling reporters Monday that it was taken to ensure that voters who were by mistakenly given unstamped ballot papers would not be “victimized.”
He insisted none of the ballot papers that were declared as valid was fake or fraudulently cast.
Turkey’s main opposition party is preparing to contest the results of a referendum that gave a narrow victory to President Tayyip Erdogan’s wishes to greatly expand the powers of his office.
The “yes” vote got 51.41 percent in Sunday’s referendum, while the “no” vote got 48.59 percent, according state-run Anadolu Agency’s results. Turkey’s electoral board confirmed the “yes” victory.
Opposition parties complained of a number of irregularities in the voting, including an electoral board decision to accept as valid ballots that did not bear the official stamp.
Legislator Utku Cakirozer told the AP that his Republican People’s Party would on Monday file objections to results at local electoral board branches, before taking their case to the Supreme Electoral Board.
Cakirozer said: “At the moment this is a dubious vote.”