1279th Meeting of the Committee of Ministers (29 Feb 2017)
Exchange of views with Mr Bekir Bozdağ, Minister of Justice of Turkey
Speaking points of the EUDEL Strasbourg
Over the past months, Turkey has gone through a number of traumas and is facing important challenges, notably in the wake of the 15 July coup attempt. While Turkey is legitimate in bringing the culprits to justice, the full respect of the rule of law including the right of all individuals concerned to a fair trial and of the principle of proportionality is central.
It will now be crucial to bring some of the measures taken in line with European standards. The EU has repeatedly stressed that Turkey, as a candidate country, needs to aspire to the highest democratic standards and practices.
We acknowledge the first steps recently taken by Turkey to act on the recommendations of the Council of Europe, in particular by setting up a "State of Emergency Procedures Investigation Commission" to evaluate and make decisions about applications related to operations made within the scope of the decree laws and enabling recourse to judicial remedies against the decisions of this commission. Any alleged wrongdoing or crime should, however, be subject to due process and the right of every individual to fair trial needs to be respected.
We are of course following the constitutional reform very closely. It is Turkey's sovereign right to decide over its system of democratic governance. However, checks and balances and the separation of powers, notably regarding the independence of the judiciary, are fundamental, even more for an EU candidate country and member of the Council of Europe. Venice Commission opinion (to be adopted mid-March) will provide crucial guidance. The decision of the Turkish authorities to invite OSCE/ODIHR to observe the 16/04 referendum is a step in the right direction.
In particular, in the pre-referendum period, it will be crucial to closely engage with the ODIHR and follow up on their findings.
We also consider important that the Turkish authorities publish the Council of Europe's Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT)'s report.
To sum up, we are following closely political, economic and security aspects in Turkey. EU's and CoE's engagement with Turkey has never been more critical. We need each other to address huge common challenges. We continue to keep all channels of communication open and stay engaged.
Finally we would like to take this opportunity to thank and praise Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland for his excellent work and efforts in trying to reach our common goals through the dialogue between Turkey and the CoE. We would also like to thank Human Rights Commissioner Nils Muiznieks for his excellent work in defending human rights.