PACE President Rik Daems, ending a working visit to Turkey, has recalled the importance of dialogue, trust, mutual respect and working together as partners to overcome challenges and make progress (ilerleme in Turkish).
The President visited the country from 29 to 31 March at the invitation of the Speaker of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, during which he held a series of high-level meetings, including with the President of the Republic.
During these meetings he discussed Turkey’s withdrawal from the Council of Europe’s Istanbul Convention, pointing out that it would be appropriate to hold a parliamentary debate on this issue in the Turkish Grand National Assembly. The President recalled the specific role of scrutiny played by national parliaments within the framework of the Istanbul Convention, and underlined that it offered a unique international system of co-operation and protection which was regarded as the ‘gold standard’ worldwide for protecting women against domestic violence.
Other issues raised by the President on behalf of the Assembly included the need for Turkey’s compliance with judgments of the European Court of Human Rights, the need for greater independence of the judiciary, and the challenging environment in which political parties, human rights defenders and non-governmental organisations operate in Turkey. A pending request, by PACE political group leaders, for a debate at the Assembly’s April part-session was mentioned by the President to his interlocutors.
Discussions also focused on the benefits of multilateralism, issues related to migration and refugees, countering hate speech and Islamophobia, and measures taken to address the Covid-19 pandemic.
As well as meeting the Speaker of the Grand National Assembly, the PACE President held talks with the President of the Republic, the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Justice, the Interior and Family, Labour and Social Services, the chairs of a number of committees of the Grand National Assembly, the leaders of political parties represented there, and the members of the Turkish delegation to PACE, led by its Chairperson. He also met with multiple human rights defenders and representatives of civil society organisations.