Ankara condemns democracy monitoring as 'disgrace'

The Council of Europe’s decision to monitor Turkey was condemned as a “disgrace” by the Foreign Ministry on Tuesday, Anadolu reported.

The council’s parliamentary assembly announced that it was placing Turkey on a political monitoring watch list earlier Tuesday following an investigation into the country’s democratic institutions.

The assembly adopted the recommendations of observers by 113 votes to 45, with 12 abstentions.

In a statement, the ministry said the decision to re-impose monitoring “under the guidance of malicious circles… is a disgrace to this organ, which claims to be the cradle of democracy.”

It was the second time Turkey had been placed under monitoring, having previously been monitored from 1996 to 2004.

“We strongly condemn this unjust decision of PACE [the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe], taken with political motives in contravention of the established procedures,” the ministry said.

The statement went on to outline the threats Turkey faced from terrorism.

“Our country is simultaneously countering the most brutal terrorist organizations, such as PKK, FETO [Fetullah Terrorist Organization] and Daesh,” it said.

“While adhering to our international commitments, we take necessary and proportionate measures against the dangers targeting our constitutional order and the survival of our nation.

“This constitutes the most fundamental obligation and legitimate right of a state."

EU Minister Omer Celik also condemned the decision, calling it "unfair" and "wrong".

"This is a historic mistake both for the Council of Europe, and PACE," Celik told Anadolu Agency and state-broadcaster TRT reporters in Ankara.

"Instead of producing any kind of solidarity, they, unfortunately, came up with an unfair approach towards Turkish democracy, which keeps the freedom-security balance under very difficult circumstances," he said.

Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus also lashed out at the decision, urging the Council of Europe to take steps towards fixing it.

"This, unfortunately, is seen as a result of a gradually growing racist, fascist, anti-Turkish, anti-Islam, and anti-Turkey campaign. It is a completely political decision. It does not fit any reality," Kurtulmus told a news conference.

On March 8, the assembly’s Monitoring Committee called for the monitoring procedure to be re-opened to strengthen “co-operation with the Turkish authorities and all forces in the country and thus ensure respect for fundamental freedoms, the rule of law and democracy.”

In a statement, the committee noted a “serious deterioration of the functioning of democratic institutions” following last July’s coup attempt.

It highlighted “disproportionate measures” such as the dismissal of thousands of civil servants and violations of media freedom, as well as the earlier lifting of lawmakers’ immunity.


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