Council of Europe head holds high-level talks in Ankara to discuss key issues

Published 16.02.2018 00:00

Council of Europe (CoE) Secretary-General Thorbjorn Jagland held a series of high-level meetings in Ankara yesterday to discuss the thorny issues and restore the battered ties between the two sides.

As relations between Turkey and the CoE have been strained following the latter's decision to reintroduce a monitoring process against Turkey, the head of the CoE held talks with Turkish officials stressing the partnership with Turkey as a long-standing member.

Jagland held meetings with Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Turkish Constitutional Court President Zühtü Arslan, and Turkey's Parliament Speaker İsmail Kahraman as part of his two-day visit. He was also received by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan at the Presidential Complex in capital Ankara.

In relation to his meeting with Jagland, Foreign Minister Çavuşoğlu wrote on his official Twitter account that he "underlined the importance of Turkey's fight against terrorist organizations, reiterated our expectations from the Council of Europe and its members, and discussed Turkey-CoE common agenda at our meeting with the secretary-general."

Turkey's decision to withdraw from its main contributor status in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) was discussed in Jagland's meetings as the CoE has been greatly struggling to manage its budget fearing an unprecedented financial crisis following the developments. Ankara had announced in Strasbourg in December 2017 that it will withdraw from the status of main contributor starting from 2018 and will contribute 20 million euros less in 2018. Turkey's decision came after the CoE reintroduced a monitoring process against Turkey and awarded Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) member Murat Arslan with a human rights award.

"I told Turkish Minister Gül there is no anti-Turkish campaign in Europe. We speak to Turkey openly as friends, as partners and as a long-standing member of the Council of Europe," Jagland wrote on his Twitter yesterday following a meeting with Justice Minister Abdülhamit Gül.

On Friday Jagland is set to deliver a keynote speech to over 400 candidate judges and prosecutors of the Justice Academy at the premises of the Constitutional Court.

Jagland's visit to Ankara is the third one following the July 15, 2016 coup attempt orchestrated by the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) and left 249 people dead. Jagland, who has been serving as secretary-general of the European Council since 2009, was the first high-level official from a European institution to pay a visit to Turkey after the failed coup attempt.

During Jagland's meetings, the working process of the State of Emergency Procedures Investigation Commission was reported to be on the agenda. The commission was established to address the complaints about removals or dismissals from civil servants, educational institutions and closed associations following the failed coup attempt. Public institutions and judicial authorities are obliged to immediately provide the requested information to the commission and facilitate any inquiries.

After mass arrests and detentions following the coup attempt, Turkey, which declared a state of emergency a few days after the insurrection bid, set up the State of Emergency Procedures Investigation Commission to investigate legal proceedings against the suspects. The commission seeks to accelerate its working process, as a huge number of people have been applying.

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