Turkey withdraws as main contributor in European Council, cites monitoring process

DAILY SABAH
ANKARA
Published

After the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) reintroduced a monitoring process against Turkey on April 25 and awarded a Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) member, Murat Arslan, with a human rights award, the country has withdrawn from its "main contributor" status in the PACE, a move it had previously threatened to make.

The secretary general of the Council of Europe, Thorbjorn Jagland, said on Oct. 8 that Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu had sent a letter confirming Turkey's intention of withdrawing from its main contributor status.

"I received a letter from Foreign Minister Çavuşoğlu that Turkey intends to withdraw from its main contributor position [in the PACE]. … I don't know what kind of a process will take place," Jangland said.

Amid allegations that Turkey has violated fundamental rights, PACE gathered on April 25 to discuss a report titled "The functioning of democratic institutions in Turkey."

A total of 113 voted in favor, while 45 voted against the monitoring decision, urging Turkey to take measures in the fields of freedom of expression and its state of emergency.

In response to the adoption of the monitoring process, the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs strongly condemned the decision and said it was a politically motivated move.

"We strongly condemn this unjust decision of the PACE that appears to be politically motivated and contradictive of established procedures," the Turkish Foreign Ministry said. "Deciding to reopen the monitoring procedure for Turkey, a staunch defender of contemporary European ideals and values and a founding member of the Council of Europe, under the guidance of malicious motivations in PACE is a disgrace to this institution claiming to be the cradle of democracy."

Following the decision, Çavuşoğlu said Turkey is listed as one of the main contributors to the European Council, adding, "We will lower the amount [of monetary support] and make the minimum payment."

Professor Talip Küçükcan, the head of the Turkish delegation at PACE, also commented on the issue saying that the council's decision to introduce the monitoring procedure would harm relations and lead the council to reconsider its future plans.

Drawing attention to the fact that Turkey is one of the main countries providing monetary assistance to the council, Jagland said, "The Council of Europe, and particularly the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), is in need of any monetary assistance that can be procured."

He also said he does not perceive the decision as a "let down" in relation to Turkey's pledges to the council, adding that the negotiations will be conducted concerning Turkey's decision.

Meanwhile, relations between Turkey and the CoE were further strained over PACE honoring a senior FETÖ member, Murat Arslan, with a human rights award on Oct. 9.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry slammed PACE for the decision, saying, "Making such a mistake under the roof of an organization that is a defender of the principles of democracy, human rights and the rule of the law has seriously damaged the credibility of PACE."

Turkey was placed under a monitoring process between 1996 and 2004 by PACE. Following the enactment of structural changes and updating regulations, the monitoring status was lifted.

Turkey is the first European country to be removed from the monitoring process only to be reintroduced later.

The budget of the council is mainly funded by member states' contributions. Turkey was one of the main contributors, also known as main contributors along with France, Germany, Italy, the Russian Federation and the United Kingdom, providing nearly 65 percent of the total budget. Therefore, Turkey's monetary assistance to the council constitutes an important aspect of its operations.

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