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    Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan addresses the audience during a meeting in Ankara, Turkey, October 3, 2016. Picture taken October 3, 2016.

    Turkey Hits Back at PACE Over Human Rights, Rule of Law Claims

    © REUTERS/ Umit Bektas
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    The Turkish foreign ministry has slammed the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) for raising "serious concerns about respect for human rights, democracy and the rule of law," saying the country is fighting terrorism and "contributes to the security and stability of the whole of Europe."

    The PACE voted, April 25, to reopen the monitoring procedure in respect of Turkey until "serious concerns" about respect for human rights, democracy and the rule of law "are addressed in a satisfactory manner."

    The resolution adopted calls on the Turkish authorities urgently to take measures such as lifting the state of emergency "as soon as possible," halting the promulgation of emergency decree laws which bypass parliamentary procedures "unless strictly needed" and releasing all the parliamentarians and journalists detained pending trial.

    However, the Turkish Foreign Ministry hit back, saying it strongly condemns "this unjust decision of PACE taken with political motives in contravention to the established procedures."

    "Our country is countering simultaneously the most brutal terrorist organizations, such as PKK, FETO and Daesh. 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," the foreign ministry said in a statement.

    ​"It should be recalled that Turkey contributes to the security and stability of the whole of Europe and its close vicinity while hosting more than 3.2 million refugees and countering treacherous terrorist organizations. Having disregarded Turkey's contributions to European security and stability, this decision by the PACE Parliamentarians in fact, shows an imprudent mind-set lacking strategic vision and ignoring the common and democratic values on which Europe is founded," it said. 

    Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan poses with children during a ceremony to mark the National Sovereignty and Children's Day at the Presidential Palace in Ankara, Turkey, April 23, 2017.
    © REUTERS/ Murat Cetinmuhurdar/Presidential Palace

    Turkey has been heavily criticized for its government crackdown on opposition supporters and journalists — especially in the wake of the failed coup, July 2016, which Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan blames on the exiled cleric, Fethullah Gulen. 

    Erdogan has attracted further criticism after a referendum, April 16, which supported abolishing the office of prime minister and handing him more executive powers as president. 

    "The Assembly also expressed deep regret that the constitutional referendum on 16 April 2017 had been contested on an "uneven playing field", thus preventing the two sides in the campaign from having equal opportunities. Furthermore, the validation of unsealed ballot papers in contradiction with the 2010 election law "raised serious questions about the legitimacy of the outcome of the referendum," PACE said in a statement.

    The PACE decision was blasted by the Turkish Foreign Ministry as risking delivering a boost to terrorism.

    "Under the influence of the populist tendencies that fuel Islamophobia and xenophobia, this marginalizing and alienating decision taken against Turkey by a group of Europeans acting with narrow and shallow domestic political motivations is in fact a political operation. This decision shall serve the terrorist organizations, in particular FETO, which constitute a danger not solely against our country but also against the entire European system and values," the foreign ministry said.

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    Tags:
    detention order, human rights, Turkish referendum, coup attempt in Turkey, Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Council of Europe, PACE, Fethullah Gulen, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey, Ankara
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