Turkey no longer major Council of Europe donor: Minister
ANKARA / STRASBOURG
Turkey has informed the Council of Europe that it is withdrawing from being one of the six major donors to the European body.
Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on Nov. 2 had expressed to Council of Europe Secretary-General Thorbjorn Jagland by phone Turkey’s unease over an award given to a Fetullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ) suspect.
Turkey’s reaction comes after the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) awarded the Václav Havel Human Rights Prize 2017 to Murat Arslan, the former chair of the Judges and Prosecutors Union (YARSAV) who has been arrested since 2016 over links to FETÖ, which is believed to have orchestrated last year’s failed coup.
Jagland, after meeting with main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) on Nov. 8, told reporters that Turkey decided to end being one of the major contributors to the Council of Europe, while stressing that both the council and the European Court of Justice needed all sorts of support.
Kılıçdaroğlu, meanwhile, criticized Turkey’s decision, urging that the country should not lose the platform because of an award.
“I want common sense to prevail. It is very important for us that Turkey remains as one of the major contributors,” he said and called on the government to review its decision.
“It’s suggested that the decision was made due to the award given to the former YARSAV chair. It’s like cutting off the nose to spite the face. One has to keep the interests of Turkey above everything. Turkey should take the leading role in an institution to which Turkey is a predecessor. One should tell their mistakes to their faces,” he said.
Asked about the council’s reports on its criticisms of the Turkish government’s practices, Kılıçdaroğlu urged Europe should continue its relations with Turkey despite problems.
“Turkey should be in the future of Europe,” he said.
Çavuşoğlu made Turkey a major donor
Turkey has been among the major donors, along with France, Germany, Italy, Russia and the United Kingdom, contributing to nearly 65 percent of the total budget of the council.
Turkey became one of the major contributors in 2016 with the meticulous efforts by Çavuşoğlu, who once served for the Council of Europe. Çavuşoğlu was elected as the president of PACE for the 2010-2012 term, becoming the first Turkish parliamentarian to hold this office. He was granted the title of Honorary President of PACE in 2014.
Turkey’s contribution increased from 14 million euros in 2015 to 34 million euros on Jan. 1, 2016, the same year Turkey’s seats in the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities and PACE increased from 12 to 18, along with the introduction of the Turkish language to both bodies.
Turkey slams PACE award
The Turkish Foreign Ministry on Oct. 9 lashed out at the award given to Arslan.
“It is wrong and unacceptable to award the Václav Havel Human Rights Prize to a person who is a member of FETÖ, the perpetrators of the July 15, 2016, coup attempt. Making such a mistake under the roof of an organization that defends the principles of democracy, human rights and the rule of law has seriously damaged the credibility of PACE,” the ministry said in a statement.
“While the judicial process is still ongoing, presenting a terror suspect as a human rights defender is a betrayal to the ideals of democracy and human rights. Such an approach serves no purpose other than aiding the circles that support terrorism. We deeply regret PACE has become a tool to these political moves,” it added.