PACE reopens monitoring procedure for Turkey

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) decided on Tuesday to reopen the monitoring procedure for Turkey.

Earlier this morning members of PACE appeared divided, as they debated in Strasbourg the functioning of democratic institutions in the country. They were called to vote on a draft resolution, on the basis of a report authored by IngebjA�rg Godskesen (Norway, European Conservatives Group) and Marianne Mikko (Estonia, Socialist Group).

In their report, co-rapporteurs propose that the Monitoring Committee urges Turkey to take urgent measures, including the lifting of the state of emergency and the release of MPs and journalists. It further proposes that the Parliamentary Assembly reopens the monitoring procedure so as to intensify its co-operation with the Turkish authorities and all forces in the country.

The report also expresses the Monitoring Committee’s concern about the detention of parliamentarians and journalists, repeated violations of the freedom of expression and of the media and the situation in south-east Turkey, leading to a serious deterioration of the functioning of democratic institutions.

The committee has moreover expressed concern about the constitutional amendments, in particular respect for the separation of powers, checks and balances and independence of the judiciary and the conditions of the organization of the referendum of 16 April 2017.

Opinions among the representatives of political groups in the PACE were split between those underlining that the Assembly must stand for its values by implementing the monitoring procedure and those who expressed concerns of Turkey’s alienation.

Nigel Evans (UK, European Conservatives Group) questioned the use of putting Ankara into monitoring, noting that the measure could be contemplated as a punishment.

He also said that settlement talks in Cyprus must continue, in order to reach a settlement to this problem that goes on for decades.

Martin Poliacik (Slovakia, ALDE) called on Ankara to remain in a democratic path and expressed concern over developments in the country. With regards to the intention to reintroduce the death penalty, he said that this a red line for CoE and a country cannot be part of this family if it implements this measure.

Nikolaj Villumsen (Denmark, Group of the Unified European Left) referred to a remark made by Turkish President Erdogan against critics of the referendum, that they should know their place. This attack is an assault against the whole Assembly he said and urged for action in order to help the people of Turkey. Either we stand for the values of this Assembly or we find our place as President Erdogan prompted us, he said.

Zslot Nemeth (Hungary, Group of the European Peoples Party) questioned the usefulness of introducing the monitoring procedure in Turkey. He said that the position of EPP is to continue with the post-monitoring procedure instead, although he acknowledged that there is some dissent.

I don’t understand why we risk the existing process supported by the Secretary General and the EU, by stigmatizing Turkey with reopening the monitoring procedure, when we have a post-monitoring process. Nemeth wondered if parliamentarians are aware of the dangers for the CoE and whether some want Turkey to retreat from the organization.

“We have to reopen the monitoring procedure for Turkey,” said Stefan Schennach (Austria, Socialist Group), adding that we are supposed to be a House of values, democracy, rule of law.

He added that Turkey does not really have a president, since the current one is acting for half of the country. Opening the monitoring the monitoring procedure is the only option, he added.

Taking the floor during the debate, Turkish parliamentarians from the ruling AKP party called the draft resolution biased, a remark that prompted reaction by others.

Kucukcan Talip, an AKP MP, said that there is proof that members of the monitoring mission during the Turkish referendum used social media to campaign in favor of No. He also noted that reopening the monitoring procedure for Turkey will harm relations with the CoE and urged to discuss a road map instead.

Cypriot MP Yiorgos Loucaides of AKEL submitted his contribution in writing, as there was not enough time for all registered speakers to address the debate.

Speaking at the end of the debate Godskesen said that we all want the best for the Turkish people while Mikko noted that monitoring is not a punishment and should not be demonized. Together we are stronger, our message to the people of Turkey is that we care, we understand and we support Turkey, the Estonian parliamentarian concluded.

The resolution received 113 votes in favour, 45 against and 12 abstentions.

Source: Cyprus News Agency