EU patience with Turkey wears thin

June 13, 2013 at 12:09 PM
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STRASBOURG, France, June 13 (UPI) -- Members of the European Parliament passed a resolution Thursday calling for justice for Turkish authorities suspected of using excessive force.

Small demonstrations against plans to tear down a historic park in Istanbul have escalated to nationwide protests, which have taken on a political tone as they drag on into their second week.

Legislators and commissioners from the European government have expressed concern over the Turkish response to the unrest since protests erupted in late May.

Members of Parliament passed a resolution by a show of hands Thursday saying they were "deeply concerned" by the use of excessive force against demonstrators in Istanbul's Gezi Park.

"Those responsible for the police violence must be brought to justice, detained peaceful protesters immediately released and the victims compensated," a parliamentary statement said.

Foreign policy chief for the European Union Catherine Ashton said Wednesday she was troubled by reports of close-range use of plastic bullets and water cannons against protesters. She said at least three protesters have died and several thousand others have been injured.

"We know that Turkey, as a candidate country, needs to aspire to the highest possible democratic standards and practices," she said in a statement. "These include the freedom to express opinion and assemble peacefully, freedom of the media, and freedom of religion, belief and thought."

The U.S. embassy in Ankara issued a statement Wednesday warning of a high risk of terrorist attacks against U.S. diplomatic interests in Turkey.

"The U.S. Embassy has received an increased number of reports indicating terrorist organizations are targeting these facilities," it said.

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