Turkey will not respect the Council of Europe if it does not respect Turkish courts, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Thursday, when asked about a decision to refer the case against jailed businessperson Osman Kavala back to a top court.
The Foreign Ministry also criticized the Council of Europe on Wednesday for adopting a biased stance in the Kavala case, saying it interfered in the ongoing independent judicial process.
The Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers decided on Wednesday to refer the question of whether Turkey violated the European Convention on Human Rights by not releasing Kavala to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR).
The move is the next step in "infringement proceedings," which could result in Turkey's suspension from the Council of Europe, of which it is a founding member.
A Turkish court had on Jan. 17 ignored a final deadline set by the council for the release of Kavala by ordering that he be kept in jail.
In a statement, the Foreign Ministry recalled that the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe had adopted a decision on Dec. 2, 2021 and notified Turkey of its intention to refer the Kavala case to the ECtHR to determine whether Ankara executed the judgment and requested its views on the matter.
"In line with the spirit of cooperation we have displayed so far, our Government shared our views with the Council of Europe on Jan. 19, 2022, in which we explained in detail that the ECtHR's judgment has been executed, that Kavala's detention was the result of another judicial proceeding, and that the matter should be examined based on legal principles," the statement added.
"Despite this, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe adopted an interim decision today (Feb. 2, 2022) by a majority vote that the case of Kavala be referred to the ECtHR. Thereby, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe has maintained its stance that interferes with the independence of the judicial proceedings and violated the principle of respect for judicial proceedings," it underlined.
It pointed out that while there are a large number of judgments that are waiting to be executed by member states on the agenda of the Committee of Ministers, which supervises the execution of the judgments of the ECtHR, constantly pushing the Kavala judgment forward on the agenda is a malicious, intentional and inconsistent approach.
It is obvious that this biased and politically motivated decision, which disregards domestic proceedings, damages the credibility of the European human rights system, it said.
"Our expectation is that the ECtHR assesses this decision on a fair basis; and considering the pending domestic proceedings, does not act as a first instance court; and delivers its judgment in accordance with its case-law and principles, as well as the European Convention on Human Rights," it noted.
Kavala faced charges over the 2013 Gezi Park protests, a small number of demonstrations in Istanbul, Turkey that later transformed into nationwide riots which left eight protesters and a police officer dead. He was acquitted of all charges in February 2020, but an appeals court overturned this verdict in January.
He was also accused of involvement in the 2016 defeated coup orchestrated by the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) in Turkey and was remanded into custody on charges of spying in March.
This is only the second time the Council of Europe has used infringement proceedings against one of its 47 member states, the first occasion being a 2017 action against Azerbaijan over its refusal to release dissident Ilgar Mammadov.