Kasoulides urges Turkey to respect CoE principles regarding the death penalty

Cyprus’ Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides underlined on Monday the importance for Turkey to respect the Council of Europe’s principles and standards, in particular with regard to the prohibition of the death penalty and the independence of the judiciary.

Addressing in Strasbourg the Spring session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, in his capacity as Chairman of the Committee of Ministers, Kasoulides condemned a string of recent terrorist attacks in Europe and took stock of activities organized by the Cyprus Chairmanship of the CoE.

He also referred to the upcoming Ministerial Session, on May 19, in Nicosia, that will mark the end of the Cyprus Chairmanship. A number of decisions are expected to be finalised at that meeting, including the revised Guidelines on the Protection of Victims of Terrorist Acts. Minister Kasoulides also expressed hope to open for signatures the Convention on Offences relating to Cultural Property, in Nicosia next month.

It is important that the Committee of Ministers and the Parliamentary Assembly, as well as the Secretary General, continue to concert their efforts to face up to the numerous challenges confronting Europe today said Kasoulides and assured that Cyprus will continue to contribute to those efforts, even after its Chairmanship is over.

The referendum of 16 April generated a lot of reaction both inside and outside Turkey said Minister Kasoulides, echoing Secretary General ThorbjA�rn Jagland, who invited the Turkish authorities to cautiously proceed following the referendum. I can only subscribe to this call said the Minister.

I would also like to reiterate the importance of ensuring respect for the Council of Europe’s principles and standards, in particular regarding respect for human rights, including the prohibition of the death penalty, and the independence of the judiciary he underlined.

The Chair of the Committee of Ministers said that the Council of Europe stands ready to continue to assist Turkey in this respect.

Referring to recent terrorist attacks in London, Saint Petersburg, Stockholm and Paris, the Minister sent his condolences to the families of the victims and noted that we must relentlessly pursue the combat into which we have been drawn by the terrorist groups behind these cowardly and criminal attacks.

Kasoulides urged CoE member states to make use of instruments already available, including those provided by the Council of Europe.

In this connection, he expressed satisfaction that the Additional Protocol to the Council of Europe Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism will enter into force on 1 July following the recent sixth ratification required.

The Protocol, which has been signed already by all EU member states, makes being recruited and trained for terrorism, or financing it, a criminal offence. Kasoulides asked parliamentarians to exert their influence in their respective national parliaments, so that this protocol garners more signatures and ratifications. He also informed the Assembly that he signed the Protocol on behalf of Cyprus earlier on Monday.

The Minister said, moreover, that the revised Guidelines on the Protection of Victims of Terrorist Acts will be submitted to the Committee of Ministers for adoption on May 19, in Nicosia.

This text is not only official recognition of the suffering endured by the victims of terrorist acts and their families, but also a means of improving assistance for them by responding more aptly to their specific needs he said.

Concerning the Convention on Offences relating to Cultural Property, Kasoulides said that work has progressed quickly and PACE is about to give an opinion on the draft Convention during this session.

The Committee of Ministers awaits this opinion with interest, and with a view, I hope, to adopting the Convention and opening it for signature at the Ministerial Session in Nicosia he said.

He added that the adoption of that Convention will be an important step in our efforts to combat the financing of terrorism at a time when terrorist groups are increasingly resorting to trafficking in cultural property to fund their criminal activities.

The Minister also addressed the migration crisis, noting that migrants and refugees are entitled to the protection afforded by the European Convention on Human Rights in the same way as anyone else within the jurisdiction of member states.

He added that the Council of Europe has a duty to remain vigilant over the protection of migrants and refugees rights and expressed content over the debates in the Assembly, on funding of emergency situations and the protection of women refugees.

A draft action plan is being examined by CoE Deputies, aiming to give unaccompanied minors access to better protection while improving their integration in host societies. Kasoulides expressed hope that the action plan will be adopted by the 47 Ministers for Foreign Affairs in Cyprus next month.

Moreover, the Minister urged all parties to take a stand against the rise of racism and intolerance which threaten the cohesion of Europe’s societies.

He referred finally to the situation in Georgia and Ukraine and called on Belarusian authorities to take firm steps towards the introduction of a moratorium on the death penalty.

Source: Cyprus News Agency