(Strasbourg, 11/06/2013 (Agence Europe) – Although MEPs will discuss the events in Turkey with High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton this Wednesday, 12 June, the leaders of the European Parliament's political groups spoke of their concern about the situation on Tuesday 11 June, and called on the Turkish government to respect human rights.

In the view of the joint leader of the Greens/EFA Group, Daniel Cohn-Bendit, the behaviour of the Turkish government and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan “does not correspond to our idea of a democratic state respecting all parties in society – even the one that opposes his policy”. He criticised Erdogan for playing with fire because Erdogan said he would negotiate with the demonstrators before sending police to Taksim Square to clear them away. “This shows very well his intention not to want to negotiate”, Cohn-Bendit said.

However, in the view of the leader of the S&D Group, Hannes Swoboda, the fact that Erdogan has announced his intention to meet the demonstrators on 12 June is “a positive sign” because “we don't know what the majority of the citizens think in Turkey, and we don't know what the result of the elections will be”. He recalled that Turkey is an “extremely divided” country (for example, with its Islamic approach, and the Kurdish issue).

“This opportunity must be seized to set up a new Turkey, which would go beyond extremist nationalism and Islamic tendencies”, added Swoboda, recommending a “real programme of reforms” for the country.

Reiterating her solidarity with the people expelled from Taksim Square and the demonstrators, the leader of the GUE/NGL Group, Gaby Zimmer, expects “another attitude” from the Turkish government. She called for dialogue between the government and the demonstrators.

“A democratic and open society must be founded on a dialogue which must integrate the different actors and be conducted with respect for the points of view of all sides”, stressed the leader of the EPP Group, Joseph Daul.

“A language of truth must be used with Mr Erdogan”, said the leader of the ALDE Group, Guy Verhofstadt. “Dictatorship of the majority is not democracy. This is a truth to reiterate to Erdogan – and Europe can do this, amongst other ways, as part of the negotiations that will resume”, he added. In Cohn-Bendit's view, accession negotiation chapters must be opened on the judicial apparatus and fundamental rights (Chapter 23) and on justice, freedom and security (Chapter 24). In Daul's opinion – in response to a question on whether the regional policy chapter (Chapter 22) should be opened or not before the end of the month – “we need to reflect before we act”. He added: “I didn't say no. I said think before acting”.

A few hours after Taksim Square was reclaimed by the police – after three hours of clashes – Erdogan stated that his government would no longer exercise any tolerance towards the demonstrators. “This affair is now over. We will no longer show any tolerance”, he said (our translation throughout).

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