Deputy PM tells American CEOs Turkey not turning into authoritarian regime

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WASHINGTON, USA - APRIL 20: Mehmet Simsek, Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey, speaks during a panel discussion on "De-risking Countries: Reforms for Growth" during the the 2017 IMF Spring Meetings in Washington, USA on April 20, 2017. AFP

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Şimşek told senior representatives of leading American companies during a meeting in Washington on Friday that Turkey will continue to adhere to Western democratic values and that it is not turning into an authoritarian regime.

Speaking during a meeting organized by the US Chamber of Commerce, the Turkish Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges (TOBB) and the Turkish Heritage Organization on the sidelines of the 2017 IMF-World Bank spring meetings, Şimşek said, “What Turkey voted [on April 16 referendum] was not a regime change.”

According to the Hürriyet Daily News, Şimşek met with senior executives from Abbott, Apple, Boeing, Cargill, Honeywell, Lockheed Martin, Metlife, Pfizer and Coca Cola as well as representatives of NGOs and universities.

Turkey is still a democracy. Turkey is still a secular state. Turkey is still run by the rule of law and this will not change. Yes, there is still a state of emergency in our country, but this is necessary for our country’s safety and security, and it is only a temporary situation. Turkey is still dedicated to universal values, democratic rules, the rule of law and fundamental rights and freedoms,” he added.

Underlining that Turkey remains part of the Western world, Şimşek noted that Turkey is in a constructive relationship with the Trump administration and optimistic about strengthening bilateral ties despite differing points of view on issues such as tackling the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant [ISIL] in Syria.

On April 16, a constitutional amendment that gives more power to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and switches Turkey to an executive presidency was approved by a slight majority of “yes” votes although debates over alleged voting irregularities have yet to ease. The opposition and international observers say as many as 2.5 million voters could have been “manipulated,” effectively changing the result. Hundreds of “No” voters have taken to the streets since then.

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