Erdogan firm as election monitors slam poll
PRESIDENT Recep Tayyip Erdogan has rejected international monitors' scathing criticism of Turkey's referendum, insisting the vote was the "most democratic election” seen in any Western country.
Addressing supporters outside his palace in Ankara, Mr Erdogan said Turkey would ignore the findings of the European election monitors.
"First, know your place!” he said. "We won't see or hear the politically motivated reports you prepare.”
The monitors said the procedures used in the vote on giving the President sweeping new powers "fell short” of international standards and the referendum was "contested on an unlevel playing field”.
"Our monitoring showed the 'Yes' campaign dominated the media coverage and this, along with restrictions on the media, the arrests of journalists and the closure of media outlets, reduced voters' access to a plurality of views,” said Tana de Zulueta, head of the election observation mission.
Monitors also said a Turkish electoral board decision to validate ballots that did not bear official stamps had undermined important safeguards against fraud. Unofficial results have shown a narrow win for President Erdogan and his "Yes” campaign.
Meanwhile, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said that despite the landmark referendum, Turkey should not leave NATO.
Mr Gabriel told German daily Bild "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, he said, "It's up to Turkey ... Turkey should not distance itself further from Europe, also in its own interest.”