Merkel says told Erdogan Turkey needs a strong parliament

ISTANBUL, May 23 (Reuters) - Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Monday that she had voiced concern in talks with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan over the Turkish parliament’s recent decision to strip some lawmakers of immunity.

“I’ve made this clear in the conversation today that I also think we need an independent judicial system, we need independent media and we need a strong parliament,” Merkel said after having held talks with Erdogan in Istanbul.

“And of course, the decision to withdraw immunity from every fourth lawmaker in the Turkish parliament is something that causes deep concern. I’ve made this clear to the Turkish president,” Merkel said.

Critics have said the withdrawing of immunity is a step that is likely meant to sideline pro-Kurdish politicians.

Merkel also said that Turkey needed to fulfill all of the conditions set by Brussels before its citizens can get visa freedom in the European Union. (Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk; Writing by Michael Nienaber; Editing by Michelle Martin)