German Chancellor Angela Merkel will raise concerns over democracy in Turkey when she meets President Recep Tayyip Erdogan next week, her spokesman said Friday, as Ankara began a final vote on a contentious bill lifting parliamentary immunity.
“For the domestic stability of every democracy, it is important for every relevant group in society to be also represented in parliament. The situation will certainly be raised by the chancellor on the sidelines of the humanitarian summit with Turkey’s president,” said Steffen Seibert.
Turkey’s parliament was voting behind closed doors on a bill that could strip dozens of pro-Kurdish and other lawmakers of their parliamentary immunity and drive them out of the legislature.
Lawmakers from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) are particularly vulnerable to prosecution on allegations of links or even verbal support for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which is fighting a renewed insurgency against the Turkish state.
Seibert said the German government is “very concerned about the increasing political polarization, the polarization of the domestic political debate” in Turkey.
“We see freedom of the press and opinion playing a central role in every healthy democracy, and that applies not only to the work of the media, but also to the public expression of all citizens who wish to participate in political and societal debate, and that applies particularly also to their elected representatives,” he said.