23 June 1995
COMMUNICATION FROM THE COMMITTEE OF MINISTERS
Interim reply to Recommendation 1266 (1995)
on Turkey's military intervention in northern Iraq
and Turkey's respect of commitments
concerning constitutional and legislative reforms
(adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 22 June 1995
at the 541st meeting of the Ministers' Deputies)
1. Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1266 on Turkey commands the full attention of the Committee of Ministers, which shares the concern regarding the human rights situation in Turkey, as well as the problems caused to Turkey by terrorism.
2. The Committee of Ministers, at its 96th Ministerial Session on 11 May 1995, held a broad exchange of views on Recommendation 1266. It has also opened a dialogue on this subject in the light of detailed information from the Turkish Government.
3. In this connection, the Committee of Ministers recalls its Declaration of 10 November 1994 on compliance with commitments accepted by the member States of the Council of Europe, and the possibilities opened up by the non-discriminatory and co-operative procedures approved at the Ministerial Session of 11 May 1995, in whose formulation the Turkish Delegation played an active and constructive part.
4. The Committee of Ministers wishes to emphasise the importance which it attaches to respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Turkey. The Committee of Ministers also acknowledges that the Turkish Parliament is sovereign in the organisation of its work and its decisions. Finally, it reiterates its firm condemnation of all terrorism, such as that perpetrated by the PKK within and outside Turkey and it recalls that the fight against this phenomenon permits no derogation from respect for human rights and international law.
5. The Committee of Ministers has taken note with satisfaction of the fact that Turkish forces have been completely withdrawn from the territory of Iraq.
6. The Representative of Turkey has communicated to the Committee of Ministers the list of proposals recently submitted to the Grand National Assembly of Turkey with a view to amending the Constitution. These amendments cover inter alia questions relating to the political parties, the status of members of Parliament and parliamentary immunity, legislative and local elections and trade union freedom. Intended for adoption in the near future, this reform, which will need to be followed by others already announced by the Turkish authorities, is designed to develop democracy and to strengthen human rights protection. According to the Government of Turkey, this should make it possible, in conformity with the Vienna Declaration, progressively to satisfy the legitimate aspirations of citizens to the affirmation of their own cultural values, in a manner respecting the Constitution and the laws of the country.
7. The Committee of Ministers has taken note of the initiatives of the Turkish Government to prepare constitutional and legislative revision which would make it possible to fix the limits, in conformity with Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, of criminal charges based on the expression of opinions and ideas. However, the Committee of Ministers expects that the Turkish Grand National Assembly will be in a position to adopt the corresponding constitutional and legislative revision, in order to release rapidly persons detained on such charges.
8. In the more general context of the human rights situation in Turkey, the Committee of Ministers points out that Turkey has formally accepted all the obligations stemming from the European Convention on Human Rights, and that it participates in the control procedures for which the Convention provides. The same applies to the Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
9. The Committee of Ministers will follow closely the completion by Turkey of reforms aiming at consolidating democracy and strengthening the protection of human rights as soon as possible. In this respect the Committee of Ministers is willing to intensify the dialogue begun with Turkey on all these issues in a constructive and co-operative spirit, in order to achieve this aim.
10. The Committee of Ministers will not fail to inform the Parliamentary Assembly of the progress of this dialogue. The Committee hopes that it will help to overcome the difficulties currently encountered in Turkey, and expresses the wish that a similar dialogue could take place within the Parliamentary Assembly.