EU : Council conclusions on Turkey


EU recalls that the unequivocal rejection of the death penalty is an essential element of the Union acquis!

council

Copyright: No commercial use. Credit ‘The European Union’

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Brussels, 18/07/2016 The EU strongly condemns the attempted coup in Turkey and reiterates its full support to the legitimate institutions of the country. It deplores the high number of casualties and stands in solidarity with the Turkish people. The EU welcomes the common position of the political parties in support of Turkey’s democracy.

The EU calls for restraint to be shown by Turkish authorities, including by the police and security forces. All must be done to avoid further violence, to protect lives and to restore calm.

The EU calls for the full observance of Turkey’s constitutional order and stresses the importance of the rule of law prevailing. It is crucial to ensure full respect for all democratic institutions of the country including the elected government and the Turkish Grand National Assembly. The EU underlines the need to respect democracy, human rights and fundamental freedoms and the right of everyone to a fair trial in full compliance with the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, including Protocol 13 on the abolition of the death penalty. In this context, the EU recalls that the unequivocal rejection of the death penalty is an essential element of the Union acquis.

Turkey is a candidate country and a key partner for the European Union. The EU remains committed to working together with a democratic, inclusive and stable Turkey to address our common challenges.

Remarks by Vice-President Federica Mogherini

We discussed with the ministers the situation in Turkey. You know very well that the European Union was the first to stress the importance, during that tragic night, of upholding the legitimacy of the institutions and we continue to do so, condemning the attempt of a coup. At the same time we call for the full observance of the Turkish constitutional order and we, as European Union, stressed the importance of the rule of law prevailing in the country. We shared consensus on what is happening in the country in these hours. We need to have Turkey respecting democracy, human rights and fundamental freedoms. We will continue discussing these issues with the ministers now at the beginning of formal session of the Foreign Affairs Council, so expect also Council conclusions on that. But in this respect I have to say that messaging on the same lines from the very beginning by the EU and the US were very important and crucial.

We are seeing the debate in Turkey. We are seeing also that political forces are starting to react. We mentioned that we need to preserve the legitimacy of the institutions and that includes the Parliament. Let me be very clear on two things. No country can become an EU Member State if it introduces death penalty. This is very clear in our acquis as we call it. The other point I would like to stress, even if this is not the institution that I am entitled to speak for, that Turkey is part and an important member of the Council of Europe and as such is bound by the European Convention on Human Rights that is very clear on death penalty. I hope I have been clear. And let me add something that maybe is useful also to stress here. We have been the first to stress during those difficult hours the need for having the legitimate institutions protected against the attempt of coup. This is no excuse to take the country away from fundamental rights and rule of law. We will be extremely vigilant on that, not for the sake not of the European Union and negotiations, but for the sake of Turkey itself and for the sake of Turkish people.

We are seeing a debate in Turkey. We are also seeing that political forces are starting to react. When we mentioned the fact that we need to preserve the legitimate and democratic institutions, that includes the parliament.

Let me be very clear on one thing – actually, on two. One, no country can become a EU member-state if it introduces death penalty. That is very clear in our acquis, as we call it. So this is for sure. The other point I would like to stress, even if this is not the institution I am entitled to speak for, but Turkey is part – an important part – of the Council of Europe. It’s an important member of the Council of Europe, and as such is bound by the European Convention of Human Rights that is very clear on death penalty. I hope I’ve been clear.

And let me add something that maybe it’s useful to stress here: We have been the first to stress the need during that difficult hours – the need for having the legitimate institutions protected against the attempt of coup. This is no excuse to take the country away from fundamental rights and rule of law, and we will be extremely vigilant on that for the sake not of the European Union or negotiations, but for the sake of Turkey itself and for the sake of Turkish people.

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Remarks by John Kerry

We also discussed this morning the unfolding situation on the ground in Turkey – a NATO ally, obviously, and a key partner to the EU. We stand squarely on the side of the elected leadership in Turkey, which President Obama and I both stated in the course of the events, in the early hours, as they were unfolding that night. But we also firmly urge the Government of Turkey to maintain calm and stability throughout the country. And we also urge the Government of Turkey to uphold the highest standards of respect for the nation’s democratic institutions and the rule of law. And we will certainly support bringing the perpetrators of the coup to justice, but we also caution against a reach that goes well beyond that and stress the importance of the democratic rule being upheld. We were pleased to see that the operations at Incirlik have been restored and we are all determined to make sure that the efforts against ISIL or Daesh do not miss a beat in the days ahead.

Let me just say with respect to NATO and the movement of Turkey, obviously, NATO also has a requirement with respect to democracy, and NATO will indeed measure very carefully what is happening. And my hope is that Turkey is going to move in ways that do respect what they have said to me many times is the bedrock of their country. I mean, I spoke with the foreign minister three times in the last days, and he assured me that they fully intended to respect the democratic process and the law. Now, obviously, a lot of people have been arrested and arrested very quickly, and so as Federica has said, I think the level of vigilance and scrutiny is obviously going to be significant in the days ahead. And we’ll work very closely, and hopefully we can work in a constructive way that prevents a backsliding, and that is our hope.

With respect to Fethullah Gulen, we have received no request for extradition. Specifically, though, President Erdogan obviously in his public comments the other day called on the United States to return him to Turkey. I made it clear to the foreign minister there is indeed a very formal process for that, and there has to be a formal extradition requirement – request submitted through the appropriate channels, legal channels. There is a standard under our system of law that applies to that. I urged the foreign minister to make certain that in whatever portfolio and request they send us, they send us evidence, not allegations. We need to see genuine evidence that withstands the standard of scrutiny that exists in many countries’ system of law with respect to the issue of extradition. And if it meets that standard, there’s nothing – there’s no interest we have in standing in the way of appropriately honoring the treaty that we have with Turkey with respect to extradition. But we – and let me emphasize that we’ve never had such a request, we’ve never had such evidence, and we are doing nothing whatsoever to stand in the way of a legitimate process which respects the treaty.

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