Euro Council offers guidance to avoid future complaints
Serkan Demirtaş - ANKARA
AA photoCouncil of Europe Secretary General Thorbjorn Jagland suggested Turkey should follow the case laws of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in order to avoid future court cases over today’s legal malpractices as part of ongoing substantial post-coup prosecutions and state of emergency implementations.
“There is a clear and very detailed case law in Strasburg, which is a very good guide for the [Turkish] authorities here. Of course, I have self-interest in this, because, if this doesn’t happen, if they don’t follow the book, many of these things will land in the case of the court,” Jagland said in an interview with the Hürriyet Daily News on late Aug. 3 in Ankara.
“So we have an interest in avoiding this. The only way is that the authorities here will follow the established case laws in the court in Strasbourg. This case law is about all the legal safeguards that have to be put in place, which I will discuss with the minister of justice [Bekir Bozdağ].”
Here is an excerpt from the interview:
As a secretary general of an institution promoting democracy and rule of law for more than half a century, how did you feel when you first saw the ruins at the parliament that was bombed by plotters?
When I came to the parliament what came to my mind was what happened in Norway when this man, [Anders] Breivik, blew up the government buildings. He did it with a truck but you know this people here, they used the state assets, the F-16s, to bomb the parliament. And they also opened fire against the people in the streets. We have to understand these acts were something very, very special and of course it has created a lot of feelings in the population as their own parliament was being attacked by the government’s airplanes.
You have been to the Turkish parliament before. Now you have seen all these ruins and cites that have been bombed. Was it kind of shocking?
It was really shocking to see that the parliament had been attacked by the government assets, really shocking. And you know, when I saw what happened here that very night (July 15), I think I was one of the first in reacting clearly, even before midnight. I stated that this was a totally unacceptable military coup. I have always believed that the political powers should be gone by votes, not by guns. I instinctively reacted immediately.
How did you describe the reaction of the Turkish people and of (Turkey’s) political parties as well?
That has been very impressive, the unity that the political parties have shown. And that firm action by the Turkish people, it shows clearly that Turkey has gone a very long ways and that the democracy and human rights are part of the Turkish soul now. It was very good to see this.
In your statement with the foreign minister, you said that the Western officials had little knowledge on what happened in Turkey. Do you advise them to come to see Turkey and to see what happened in the parliament or in general terms what would you advise to your European partners?
I think that there has been too little knowledge and understanding of the challenge which this obviously secret network, which has been working in the state institutions, constitutes for Turkey. So yes, I believe that one should try to get more informed, to get more knowledge and I think also the Turkish authorities should do more to inform the services in the European countries so that the political leaders get access to this knowledge. So there is a two-way street which I hope can be open now.
You called this a secret network, but in Turkey we called it the Gülenist organization. You had very lengthy meetings today with Turkish authorities. Do you come to terms that this secret network, the Gülenist network, could be blamed for this coup attempt?
I am not the one that can confirm all this. I want to get the story from them officially but I’m not able to confirm anything. But obviously the fact that (a) military coup attempt could take place shows that there has been (some) kind of network in the military, and for a very long time. We have for a very long time heard that this exists in the Turkish state. I have no possibility to say who is behind it, but obviously there is something here which one has to take on.
What are your concerns on the ongoing post-coup process?
What I am concerned of is casting the net too wide and that many innocent people can be dragged into it. I guess that there are many people, for instance in the schools, in the media, in the media outlets that have been part of this organization. I mean what is important now is rule of law and to establish evidence and that everybody has a right to defend themselves, they have access to a lawyer, that they can get a fair trial. Let’s take a teacher that has a license to teach that didn’t get a job in the public school but wanted to teach (in) one of these (Gülen) schools, or take a journalist. That doesn’t mean to have done a criminal act or knowingly being a part of a criminal network. So we have to be very careful. I hope that those who are responsible will be held accountable and those who are obviously innocent will not.
The government issued three decree laws which correspond to substantial changes in the state structure. The opposition says this is to bypass the parliament.
Well, I heard from President (Recep Tayyip) Erdoğan today that he attached great importance to the process with the parliament. That is good. It’s good that in a new democracy that you have an opposition looking into the acts of the executive power. We are going through all the decrees as we have got them from the minister of justice. We will discuss them with the minister of justice tomorrow, discuss all the concerns, and so we can also be helpful in that process.
Have you received sufficient assurances from the government with respect to rule of law?
Well, what I heard from all them is that they want to do this in the framework of rule of law and with respect for human rights and democracy. This being said of course but it has also been done in concrete terms. So that depends now very much on legal safeguards that will (be) put in place. And I also heard today (from) President Erdoğan. He said he wants to draw on our expertise to understand what kind of rules that exist under the European convention and case law of the court in (a) state of emergency situation.
There is a clear and very detailed case law in Strasburg, which is a very good guide for the (Turkish) authorities here. Of course, I have self-interest in this, because, if this doesn’t happen, if they don’t follow the book, many of these things will land in the case of the court. So we have an interest in avoiding this. The only way is that the authorities here will follow the established case laws in the court in Strasbourg. This case law is about all the legal safeguards that have to be put in place, which I will discuss with the minister of justice.
There is a growing anti-Western language in Turkey over insufficient support. What would you suggest?
I think it is time for all sides to calm down and start to talk with each other and not only to each other. I will say this to the European partners. We need to talk with Turkey, not only talk to them. It’s important to understand and also important to explain what are the European standard in this process. But I think that the only way to be heard is first trying to understand.
And coming here maybe?
Yes. And I think this (visit) gives us a lot of trust because we try to understand. We are not politicizing things. We are very expert-oriented. We are speaking a judicial language, not political language. So this gives a lot of possibilities for us and I hope that the European partners will look at this. I can say that many foreign ministers have called me and supported (my visit). I think that they also see that somebody comes in and tries to speak with little bit different language - judicial language - can be very useful in this situation.