S&D president Pittella to attend HDP Co-chair Demirtaş’s trial in Turkey

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The President of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats Group Gianni Pittella during a plenary session of the European Parliament marking the election of its new President in Strasbourg, eastern France, on January 17, 2017. The European Parliament elects a new president today in a vote that promises to be stormy after a coalition aimed at keeping eurosceptics out of power broke down / AFP PHOTO / FREDERICK FLORIN

Gianni Pittella, president of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D) in the European Parliament, is going to start a two-day visit to Turkey on Thursday, where he will also attend the trial of pro-Kurdish Democratic Peoples’ Party (HDP) Co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş, who  has been jailed since November of last year.

In a statement on Wednesday, the S&D said Pittella would also meet with main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu.

Expressing full solidarity and support for “the sister parties” CHP and HDP, the S&D called on the two parties to put aside their differences and stand together for democracy in Turkey against any attempt to turn the country into an authoritarian regime, distancing it further from Europe.

The S&D Group has always and will continue to work for constructive relations with Turkey. We would have liked to keep Europe’s doors to Turkey open. Unfortunately, the referendum called by [President Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan has forced us to request the suspension of the accession negotiations. The way the amendments to the constitution will be now implemented will turn out to be crucial for the future of the EU-Turkey relations,” the statement said.

Pittella will also hold a press conference in Ankara at 5.30 p.m. on Thursday.

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