Only 7 years ago, Mevlut Cavusoglu, a Turkish lawmaker from Antalya was elected to lead the Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe (PACE), a European assembly that monitors rights issues in member states. That lawmaker is now Turkey’s foreign minister, who released a letter on Tuesday to “strongly condemn” the decision by PACE to send Turkey back to 2004 through reopening the monitoring process.
Mr. Cavusoglu’s strong statement came only an hour after the PACE reopened the monitoring process against Turkey due to its deteriorating human rights record, an extraordinary move illustrating the setback the country’s democracy suffered recently.
PACE’s Monitoring Committee recommended this month “to reopen the monitoring procedure in respect of Turkey until its concerns are addressed in a satisfactory manner.”
Last week, world’s four leading rights groups, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, called on the parliamentary assembly to reopen the monitoring procedure “until the grave concerns raised by the Rapporteurs are duly addressed by the Government of Turkey.”
The rights group said in the joint letter that a decision by PACE to reopen the monitoring procedure “would send a strong message to Turkey.” Only a decision to reopen full monitoring of the situation in Turkey, the letter said, would acknowledge the “grave human rights violations” documented in the country in recent years.
113 members of the PACE approved the decision to reopen the monitoring of Turkey while 45 opposed the measure. 12 parliamentarians abstained.
In a forceful statement, Turkish Foreign Ministry strongly condemned the “politically motivated” decision.
Following the vote, Kati Piri, European Parliament’s Turkey Rapporteur, said in a Twitter message that “now suspension of EU accession talks big step closer.”
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