Local EU Statement on the suspension of elected mayors in south-east Turkey, presented at the 1352nd Meeting of the Committee of Ministers (4 September 2019):
Turkish authorities have temporarily suspended the democratically elected mayors of Diyarbakir, Van and Mardin in south-east Turkey while hundreds of people have been detained as part of a major terrorism-related investigation. The replacement of Selçuk Mızraklı, Bedia Özgökçe Ertan and Ahmet Türk by state governors is of serious concern as it puts the respect of the democratic outcomes of the 31 March elections into question. Dismissals and detentions of local politicians and appointment of trustees deprive voters of political representation at local level, and seriously risk damaging local democracy.
The European Union recalls that in the past, the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities expressed its concern about the excessive use of legal proceedings against local elected representatives in Turkey and their replacement by appointed officials. The President of the Congress has recently called on the Turkish authorities to address this issue without delay and in particular to restore the capacity of municipal councils to choose a replacement mayor.
While the Turkish government has a legitimate right to fight terrorism, it is also responsible for ensuring this is done transparently and in accordance with the rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms enshrined in its Constitution and Turkey’s international commitments. Turkey has to repeal measures inhibiting the functioning of local democracy, in line with the recommendations of the Venice Commission and with Turkey's commitment to the European Charter of Local Self-Government.
While the EU has unambiguously and repeatedly condemned violent terrorist attacks in Turkey and expressed solidarity with the families of the victims, it also reiterates its call for the urgent resumption of a credible and inclusive political process to achieve a peaceful and sustainable solution.