Source: Bloomberg

Turkey Put on Council of Europe Watchlist Over Rights Record

Updated on
  • Council agency reopens monitoring for first time since 2004
  • Turkey says it will have to ‘reconsider’ relations with group

Turkey’s relations with Western allies frayed further after a Council of Europe agency put the country on its watch list, saying its crackdown on opponents compromised human rights and the rule of law.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry said the decision by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe to reopen the so-called monitoring procedure was politically motivated and would lead to a review of ties. The lira fell.

For more on previous PACE decisions, read: OSCE-Led Mission Says Turkey Election Board Contradicted the Law

The assembly denounced Turkish government actions before and after last year’s failed coup and said it put the country under closer scrutiny “to ensure that the serious concerns it has expressed about the respect for human rights, democracy and the rule of law are addressed.” Actions it deplored include large-scale dismissals of judges, prosecutors, police and academics, and the imprisonment of dozens of Kurdish lawmakers and mayors.

Although the organization has no binding power over its 47 members, its concerns over the the future of democratic institutions show the widening gulf between Turkey and its Western allies.

“After clear decision by Council of Europe to put Turkey under monitoring, now suspension of EU accession talks big step closer,” Kati Piri, the European Parliament’s rapporteur on Turkey, said on Twitter after the decision.

Ties that had already strained badly over the crackdown grew even worse in the weeks before an April 16 referendum that handed Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vastly expanded powers. Erdogan accused European countries of taking sides before the vote, likening some of them to fascist dictatorships after they blocked campaigning among Turkish expatriates.

Read more on strained Turkey-European ties: EU Says Turkey Must Address Concerns on Constitutional Amendment

The lira extended losses on the assembly vote and was trading 0.6 percent lower at 3.5944 per dollar at 5:43 p.m. in Istanbul.

“Investors are watching how the relationship between Europe and Turkey will continue in the post-referendum period,” Firat Topal, a director of emerging markets sales & sales trading at Vienna-based Raiffeisen Centrobank AG, said by email. “And while this PACE decision doesn’t have enforcement powers, for investors it may still be a signal of deteriorating ties between Europe and Turkey.”

The assembly’s decision passed by a vote of 113 to 45 and marks the first time Turkey will be monitored since 2004. It also calls on the Turkish government to lift the state of emergency imposed after the takeover attempt as soon as possible and stop using decrees that circumvent parliamentary procedures.

On the day of the referendum, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and Commissioner Johannes Hahn asked Turkey to address the Council of Europe’s concerns over the state of emergency. European Parliament legislators will discuss the outcome of the vote with Mogherini on Wednesday afternoon in Brussels.

— With assistance by Tugce Ozsoy

(Updates with comment from European Parliament rapporteur in fifth paragraph.)
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