Ankara minimizes financial support to PACE after monitoring decision

MERVE AYDOĞAN @mgulaydogan
Published 28.04.2017 21:50

Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu commented earlier this week while in Uzbekistan regarding the recent vote in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), which resulted in Turkey being placed on a monitoring watch list. He stated that PACE should not expect the same level of cooperation from Turkey, while emphasizing that actions against the decision are to be taken. Speaking in an interview with Turkish Habertürk daily, Minister Çavuşoğlu reiterated that Turkey is listed as one of the "grand payeurs" to the European Council and said, "We will lower the amount [of monetary support] and make the minimum payment."

The Turkish foreign minister's remarks came after PACE's decision to reopen monitoring procedures in regards to Turkey, which has been under post-monitoring dialogue since 2004. The assembly gathered on Tuesday in France's Strasbourg in a session to discuss a report titled, "The Functioning of Democratic Institutions in Turkey," during which 113 voted in favor of the monitoring decision and 45 voted against. Criticizing the European Union's controversial stance against Turkey, Çavuşoğlu said: "We will lower the amount [of monetary support] and make the minimum payments. We are also discussing whether to send a delegation to PACE or not. We also have other possible actions we can take. Regardless, they should know that they will regret this decision." As one of the "grand payeur" countries in PACE, Turkey has provided 33 million euros of monetary support to the assembly. Additionally, Turkey's foreign minister underlined that the decision was "politically motivated" and that it will not provide better monitoring on Turkey.

Commenting on Çavuşoğlu's remarks, the head of the Turkish delegation to PACE, Justice and Development Party (AK Party) Deputy Talip Küçükcan affirmed that the options regarding an action against PACE are to be discussed with government officials during the upcoming week. Küçükcan told Daily Sabah that he will request a meeting with Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım for next Tuesday to lay out the situation regarding the PACE decision. While noting that no official decision has been made against PACE, Küçükcan emphasized that they have been conducting talks with PACE officials since June of last year regarding the matter. However, he indicated the April 16 referendum result had determined PACE's decision, as many of the members from the assembly hold "no-bloc" positions. "The [PACE] decision is not rational … it is also not open for political dialogue," Küçükcan added, while stressing that the decision "will only weaken the council."

In the midst of the controversial decision, PACE's Bureau declared that it has no confidence in Pedro Agramunt as president of the assembly in a Strasbourg meeting on Friday. The assembly said Agramunt is no longer authorized to make official visits, attend meetings or give public statements on behalf of PACE as its president. "The president chose not to attend the Bureau today and has not presented a letter of resignation. As a result, and in the context of the current rules of procedure under which the president cannot be compelled to resign, the Bureau felt it necessary to take these steps," said Sir Roger Gale, senior vice president of the assembly, after chairing the meeting. "The standards and principles of the parliamentary assembly are more important than any individual member, and the integrity of our assembly must be upheld," he added.

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