Gianni Pittella: Turkish government must respect pluralism and return to dialogue

Gianni Pittella: Turkish government must respect pluralism and return to dialogue, leader of the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), Selahattin Demirtaş, Kurdish political party of Turkey, human rights, peace process, S&D MEP Kati Piri, rule of law,

Following an exchange of views with the leader of the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), Selahattin Demirtaş, during today's Group meeting in the European Parliament, S&D president Gianni Pittella said:

"It is with a great pleasure that we received today in the Group our comrade Selahattin Demirtaş, leader of the HDP - the main Kurdish political party of Turkey which obtained a remarkable outcome in the last elections.

"Because of the deterioration of both the quality of Turkish democracy and the overall security situation in the southeast of the country, civilians, mainly Kurdish people, are caught in the crossfire between the militants and government forces and are being deprived of food and essential services.

"We support Selahattin Demirtaş in his political effort of dialogue for peace and constitutional reform.

"We underline that the Turkish government must absolutely respect pluralism and freedom of the media as well as human rights for all citizens in Turkey.

"Concerning the Kurdish problem, we call on all sides to return to the peace process which must be accelerated because this is the only acceptable way for the solution to the Kurdish problem.

"The opening of new chapters is not a blank check for the government.  On the contrary, the Turkish authorities should show readiness for reforms and change. Therefore, the urgency is that the rule of law be guaranteed in the country."

S&D MEP Kati Piri, EP rapporteur on Turkey, said:

"The visit of HDP-leader Demirtaş to Brussels comes at a time when the situation in South East Turkey is very worrisome. While recognizing Turkey's right to fight against terrorism, this must be done within the boundaries of the rule of law and with respect for human rights.

"As we speak, wounded civilians cannot get access to urgent medical care, electricity and water while under curfew. I'm urging the authorities to ensure immediate access for medical staff into towns like Cizre.

"The continued support of the local population for a political solution is crucial, as the Kurdish question cannot be solved by violence."