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A Vision for a Democratic Turkiye in Europe

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As the EU Envoy of the Turkish president frontrunner Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu and the head of the Republican People's Party (CHP) Representation to the EU, I am filled with confidence about the future of a democratic Turkiye in Europe - writes Kader Sevinç, Head of CHP Representation to the EU, PES Presidency Member.

With the upcoming pivotal 2023 elections on Sunday, our six-party coalition bloc, the Nation Alliance, has outlined a roadmap for democratic transformation that will guide us towards a true European democracy.

Under the leadership of presidential candidate Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the Nation Alliance coalition is committed to transforming Turkiye into a nation that upholds democratic values. As the second-largest political family represented in the EU, the Party of European Socialists (PES) has expressed its support for Kılıçdaroğlu's pledge to fast-track the EU visa liberalisation process for Turkish citizens. The PES sees Kılıçdaroğlu and the united opposition as a beacon of hope for democracy, human rights, freedom, cooperation, and bringing Turkiye closer to Europe.

Our coalition's vision encompasses various key elements. We aim to prioritise the democratisation of Turkiye, strengthen ties with EU institutions and member states, swiftly complete the EU visa liberalisation process for Turkish citizens, revitalise EU membership negotiations, and implement the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights. Additionally, we aspire to enhance Turkiye's credibility as a NATO member, contributing to the security and stability of Europe amid geopolitical and economic uncertainties.

The Nation Alliance coalition, with its largest member, the CHP, is fully committed to meeting the EU's 72 visa liberalisation criteria. Kılıçdaroğlu, as our frontrunner joint presidential candidate, has pledged to fulfill the remaining five benchmarks within the first three months of the new government. These benchmarks include measures to prevent corruption, align legislation on personal data and anti-terror laws with EU standards, establish an operational cooperation agreement with Europol, and provide effective judicial cooperation in criminal matters to all EU member states.

As European social democrats and progressives, we are delighted to have the CHP and Kılıçdaroğlu's leadership driving progress towards fulfilling the remaining critical criteria for visa liberalisation. Turkiye is an essential partner for us, and we support any steps that bring the country closer to the fundamental values we share, as stated by PES Executive Secretary General Giacomo Filibeck.

Since 2008, the CHP has maintained a representative office to the EU in Brussels, actively contributing to the multidimensional communication channels of EU-Turkiye relations and the EU accession framework. We strive to maintain high-level contacts with the EU and actively participate in PES meetings, ensuring a constructive and meaningful engagement.

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Sunday's elections in Turkiye present a historic opportunity for our citizens to elect a fully democratic government. Recognised as the most significant election in Europe in 2023 due to its potential impact on the Western world, it holds the promise of establishing a democratic and prosperous Turkiye that is respected internationally on its path to EU accession.

These elections will demonstrate that democratic means can peacefully bring about a change in an authoritarian government, even in the face of unjust conditions and ongoing oppression against the opposition. Turkiye, once again, has the potential to inspire nations fighting autocratic regimes. Let us not forget that our Republic's founder, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, inspired reformers across Europe and the world with his commitment to secularism and the will of the people, laying the foundation for the Republic of Turkiye.

In conclusion, I firmly believe that Turkiye's future lies within the European democratic family. Our vision, backed by the Nation Alliance coalition and the support of progressive forces in Europe, will pave the way for Turkiye to realise its full potential as a democratic and prosperous nation. By prioritising democratisation, upholding the rule of law, and strengthening our ties with the EU, Turkiye can bridge the gap between our shared values and aspirations.

The road to EU accession may present challenges but we are prepared to tackle them head-on. Our commitment to meeting the EU's visa liberalisation criteria is unwavering, and we understand the importance of aligning our legislation with European standards. We are determined to combat corruption, protect personal data, and enhance our cooperation with Europol to ensure effective law enforcement.

Furthermore, we recognise the significance of implementing the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights. Respecting human rights and fundamental freedoms is not just a legal obligation but a moral imperative. By embracing these principles, Turkiye can strengthen its position as a reliable partner within the international community.

As we aspire to become a more credible member of NATO, we understand the crucial role we play in contributing to the security and stability of Europe. In an era marked by global uncertainty, our commitment to NATO's values and collective defense is unwavering. By actively engaging in regional and global security initiatives, we can foster stronger alliances and promote peace in a volatile world.

The upcoming elections in Turkiye present an opportunity for us to showcase the strength of our democracy. Despite the challenges and obstacles faced by the opposition, we remain steadfast in our belief that the power of the people can overcome any adversity. By exercising our democratic rights, we send a powerful message to the world: Turkiye is a nation committed to freedom, justice, and equality.

We draw inspiration from the legacy of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, whose visionary leadership transformed Turkiye into a modern, secular Republic. His ideals continue to resonate today as we strive to build a society where diversity is celebrated, and individual rights are protected. Atatürk's influence extended far beyond our borders, igniting the aspirations of democratic activists around the globe. We stand proudly in his footsteps, advocating for a Turkiye that embodies the values he hold dear.

The path towards a democratic Turkiye in Europe may not be easy, but with determination, unity, and the support of our allies, we can overcome any obstacle. We invite the European Union to engage in constructive dialogue with us, recognising that our shared values form the foundation for a strong and prosperous partnership.

In closing, we remain optimistic about the future of Turkiye as a democratic member of the European family. Through our unwavering commitment to democratic principles, the rule of law, and human rights, we can forge a path towards a brighter tomorrow. Let us seize this historic opportunity and work together to create a Turkiye that not only fulfills the criteria for EU accession but also serves as a beacon of democracy and progress for the world to admire.

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