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OSCE ‘disappointed’ after Turkey bars two vote observers

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The parliamentary assembly of the world’s largest security organization, the OSCE, voiced disappointment on Monday after Turkey barred two lawmakers from a 100-strong mission to monitor the country’s May 14 elections, Agence France-Presse reported.

Turkish authorities have denied accreditation to Danish MP Soren Sondergaard and Swedish MP Kadir Kasirga, said the parliamentary assembly of the 57-member Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

“We are disappointed with this step taken by the Turkish authorities, which could impact negatively on the work of the international observer mission,” the assembly said.

It said Turkey “should not –- directly or indirectly -– influence the composition of the mission,” adding that Sondergaard and Kasirga had been refused entry because of statements made “as independent members of parliament.”

The 100-strong team is made up of lawmakers from OSCE member countries.

Another OSCE body is sending a separate team of almost 400 people to observe Turkey’s presidential and parliamentary vote, in which President Recep Tayyip Erdogan faces the toughest challenge of his two-decade rule.

Sondergaard, from Denmark’s Socialist-Green Alliance, said last week that Turkey had denied him access because he had previously visited the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

He told Danish public television TV2 that Ankara had accused him of “promoting a terrorist organization.”

The SDF spearheaded the fight against the Islamic State group in Syria. Turkey regards it as an offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which it classifies as “terrorist.”

In 2018, Ankara barred a German and a Swedish lawmaker from an election observer mission sent by the OSCE’s parliamentary assembly.

The OSCE was founded in 1975 to foster relations between the West and the Eastern Bloc. Its current members include both NATO countries and Russia.

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