Öykü Altuntaş / Istanbul, Oct 30 () - Media freedom and pluralism, media playing field for candidates are areas to be payed close attention in characterizing the context of Turkey’s Nov. 1 elections, urged Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) election observation leaders, over their multi-city visit.
The OSCE Special Co-ordinator for observation of the early parliamentary elections in Turkey, Ignacio Sanchez Amor (MP, Spain), and the Head of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly Delegation of Observers, Margareta Cederfelt (MP, Sweden) have visited the center, east and west of the country this week in preparation for the 1 November vote.
They met with senior representatives from the election administration, representatives of political parties, NGOs, analysts, journalists and long-term observers from the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIHR), Istanbul and Ankara and visited Erzurum and Diyarbakir, respectively.
Freedom of expression, media on focus
In Ankara, Sanchez Amor and Cederfelt also met with representatives of the Koza Ipek media group, whose trustees were replaced following a court ruling and whose offices were raided by police.
Freedom of expression, freedom of the media and security for all political parties were preliminary focuses of these meetings.
“Our meetings with Koza Ipek and journalists from a range of media outlets suggest that, once again, media freedom, media pluralism and the media playing field for candidates are areas to which we must pay close attention in characterizing the context of these elections” said Special Co-ordinator Sanchez Amor.
“Issue of security in people’s minds”
Accordingly, the Head of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly Delegation of Observers, Cederfelt, met with Diyarbakir Governor Huseyin Aksoy, regarding concerns over electoral security in the region.
“In Diyarbakir and in the eastern part of Turkey, especially, the issue of security is at the front of people’s minds. As we approach the fourth election in less than two years, Turkish citizens could also be forgiven for some voter fatigue. However, I was pleased to hear that despite these factors, people are expected to vote in high numbers” said Cederfelt.
Cederfelt serves as head of approximately 40 members of parliament from nearly 20 OSCE participating States who will observe the vote.
OSCE to be deployed to polling stations
The OSCE parliamentarians, who have begun arriving in Turkey, will participate in comprehensive briefings before deploying to polling stations in several regions for election day. They will work closely with observers from the OSCE/ODIHR and in co-ordination with colleagues from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).
The mission will assess the elections against democratic commitments contained in the OSCE’s 1990 Copenhagen Document.