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PACE, MP Antti Kaikkonen, Speech 23.4.2013:

Post-monitoring dialogue with Turkey

As we all know, monitoring is a crucial part of the work done by the Council of Europe. This means that the Member States need to follow in both law and practice the human rights standards and obligations set out by the Council of Europe. The principles of democracy, human rights and of a constitutional state should be the guidelines for action in every member state.

Turkey has been subject to monitoring during the early 21th Century and during that time Turkey has succeeded in reforming laws and practices in many areas. Seems safe to say that monitoring has provided a boost to move forward. In 2004 Turkey was transferred in a post-monitoring phase, which should not be taken as sign of a failure. Instead, post-monitoring is a chance to enhance legislation and practices to match the common criteria by giving Turkey twelve specific points that still needs to be worked on.

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I thank the rapporteur, Ms. Josette Durrieu for providing us such a detailed report on Turkey’s actions on these twelve points. There has been a lot of progress. For example, the institution of ombudsman has been established.  I was also very pleased to learn that Turkey was the first Member State to ratify the Istanbul Convention that focuses on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence. The ratification was an important step, and now we need to see this convention to put in practice. Violence towards women still remains an issue and the work to prevent it needs to continue. Furthermore the status and rights of minorities remains an issue where there are still lots of steps to be taken.

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I must admit I was a bit disappointed to learn that the public opinion in Turkey towards the European Union has decreased dramatically over the past decade. According to the report this is due to many different reasons. Both the citizens of Turkey and EU countries might feel that the negotiations are only continuing in theory and that there is not enough political will on either side to finish the process that has been going on for almost a decade. However there is no point in negotiating for negotiations sake. Both the EU and Turkey need to remind themselves why the negotiations started in the first place: if the admission criteria are fully met by Turkey, both parties are able to benefit from the unification.

Turkey can play a crucial role as a mediator between the East and the West. Its economy has continued to grow despite the global economic crises. It has managed to combine Islamic culture with democratic and secular state. On the other hand EU can provide Turkey with the advantages of free markets and monetary union. However in order to get there Turkey needs to implement in both law and practice the human rights requirements set out by the Council of Europe.  Completing the twelve steps would act as a sign of a great political will on Turkey’s side. The European Union could not close its eyes on such significant progress.

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The rapporteur stresses throughout the report that there are substantial changes going on in Turkey. The reform of the Constitution is not finished and the reform will affect the Turkish society greatly. However the results cannot be seen before the upcoming elections in 2014 and 2015. Therefore I must support the rapporteur’s conclusion. It would be beneficial to continue the post-monitoring dialogue with Turkey to ensure that further actions are taken in order to fulfill the principles set out by the Council of Europe.