“At the end you can always say that we have done not enough, but I can assure you that I did my best during my Presidency to strengthen the Parliamentary Assembly and its institutional role”, Mevlut Cavusoglu today at his last press conference in his capacity of President of the Assembly. “I can assure that there is no institutional crisis anymore at the Council of Europe and indeed everyone benefits from this situation”, he added. Mr Cavusoglu underlined the high number of visits he paid to the organisation's member countries and the positive feed back he received in every capital.
Referring to the vote of the French Parliament Lower Chamber on the bill criminalizing the so-called Armenian genocide, Mr Cavusoglu said that in fact “France is criminalizing freedom of speech”, which goes against the Council of Europe values. “I wonder what would happen if countries like, Armenia, Azerbaijan or Ukraine brought such a policy to their Parliament”, he said. In Turkey, he added, “we got a lot of pressure to change article 301 of the Turkish penal code. We do have double standards: we are silent when it comes to big countries, whilst against small countries we do react all together. I chose not to make any statement about this matter in my capacity of President of the Assembly, but I do now speak about it because I believe that we can not accept to penalise freedom of speech in any Council of Europe State”, Mr Cavusoglu concluded.