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Debate under urgent procedure -The functioning of democratic institutions in Turkey
22 April 2021

Dear Colleagues,


Regrettably, we find ourselves enticed, once more, to debate the functioning of democratic institutions in Turkey, a founding member of the Council of Europe. Turkey continues to fall short in honouring its international obligations and commitments. Ankara has been escalating its provocations and illegal actions in the Eastern Mediterranean and elsewhere, as part of its expansionist aims. Turkey’s persisting arrogance, intransigence and gunboat diplomacy severely undermine prospects of achieving a just and viable settlement of the Cyprus problem, in accordance with international law and pertinent UN Resolutions and further destabilise the wider region.


By choosing to ignore or discard international legal instruments [Treaties, Resolutions, Conventions] and independent court decisions, the Turkish government sends a disheartening message to its own citizens and the international community (that its agenda for geopolitical supremacy supersedes the rule of law).


Under the Turkish President, Mr. Erdogan, Turkey has been gradually heading towards an authoritarian system of government. This casts a blow on democracy, human rights, and the rule of law and dissociates the country from European values and principles and the Council of Europe standards, legislation and practices, in particular. The 2016 attempted coup (d’état) in Turkey gave President Erdogan the perfect opportunity to adopt emergency measures, now integrated into the Turkish Constitution and pertinent legislation. The independence and the competences of the judiciary and legislative powers have been seriously undermined. Effective checks and balances are not in place and Turkey is facing a serious democratic deficit.


Democratically elected mayors being replaced with government appointees, despite relevant opinions of the Venice Commission, the ongoing detention of Selahattin Demirtas and Osman Kavala, in disregard of pertinent decisions by the European Court of Human Rights, systematic crackdowns on political opposition and restrictions on the freedom of expression and NGO activities, all indicate serious erosion of democratic institutions. Under the pretext of countering terrorism or defending national security, thousands of civil servants, journalists, academics and others, including women, often with their children, are being detained. Mr Erdogan’s decision to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention, as well as his declared intention to eventually reintroduce capital punishment, are further distancing the country from our shared democratic principles.


Turkey must take careful note of the recommendations of this Report and abandon policies that compromise the democratic functioning of its institutions and disrespect the democratic maturity demonstrated by the Turkish society.