UPDATE- Turkey's AK party slams US official's polls remarks

Alaturka Amerika ABD Haberleri

ADDS MORE REMARKS FROM AK PARTY SPOKESMAN</p> <p>By Aynur Ekiz</p> <p>ANKARA (AA) – Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party slammed U.S. State Department spokesman Robert Palladino on Thursday over his remarks on Turkey’s local elections.</p> <p>“The statement by the U.S. State Department spokesman on Turkey’s election process should be condemned,” AK Party spokesman Omer Celik told reporters at the party’s headquarters in the capital, Ankara.</p> <p>Celik said it was incomprehensible for Palladino to make such a statement, which could be interpreted as meddling in the election process and results in Turkey.</p> <p>&quot;Free and fair elections are essential for any democracy. That means acceptance of legitimate election results, which is essential,” Palladino said at a press briefing.</p> <p>“We expect nothing less from Turkey, which has a long, proud tradition in this respect,” he added.</p> <p>Celik said that “no foreign government, or any organ or statement from it, is a source of legitimacy for the election process and election results in Turkey.”</p> <p>On Sunday, millions of Turkish citizens cast their votes in nationwide elections to choose the country’s mayors, city council members, mukhtars (neighborhood officials) and members of elder councils for the next five years.</p> <p>On the row with the U.S. over Turkey’s decision to purchase Russia’s S-400 missile defense system, Celik said demanding that Ankara give up a “done deal” is disrespecting the country’s sovereign rights.</p> <p>Turkey's purchase of the S-400 system has led to significantly strained ties with the U.S., which earlier this week suspended delivery of parts and services necessary to Turkey's receipt of the U.S.’s F-35 stealth fighter jet.</p> <p>U.S. officials have suggested to Turkey to buy the U.S. Patriot missile system rather than the S-400 system, arguing that the Russian system is incompatible with NATO systems and exposes the F-35 to possible subterfuge, including covert efforts to obtain critical information on the fighter jet which could then be relayed to Moscow. </p> <p>“Asking Turkey to withdraw from an agreement that is already completed is disrespectful to Turkey’s sovereignty,” said Celik, adding Turkey will not give any credit to this “disrespectful” act.</p> <p>Within the scope of NATO's 70th anniversary, Celik highlighted that Turkey is a “key country and ally” of the alliance.</p> <p> But “constantly questioning Turkey’s NATO membership is also questioning the fundamental values of the NATO alliance”, he said. </p> <p>*Writing by Sena Guler and Gozde Bayar</p> <p>