Turkey’s new trouble:  Expulsion from Council of Europe

The CoE’s Committee of Ministers has launched infringement proceedings against Ankara that have so far stressed dialogue but could eventually see Turkey’s removal or its membership suspended, experts say.


WATCH: Turkey’s Kurds Will Determine the Outcome of 2023 Elections


Asked about potential measures, a CoE spokesperson said it was for the Committee to decide on steps and their timing.


ECHR data shows it delivered 3,820 judgments regarding Turkey between 1959 and 2021, of which 3,385 included at least one rights violation – the highest of any country. Turkey has the largest population among the 46 member states and signed the Convention before many of them.


WATCH:  Turkey’s Intractable Refugee Problem


It is the second time that proceedings have been launched against a member state. In the previous instance, Azerbaijan eventually executed a ruling.


While the consequences are not outlined, experts say Turkey should not be removed as that would deprive 85 million citizens of a mechanism that has provided restitution for thousands.


“I hope the Council of Europe does not deal the final blow,” said Akkoc, a prominent women’s rights defender. “I hope (Turkish) authorities implement the rulings by the ECHR and that we are not completely severed from the Western world.”


She said Turkey’s refusal to implement ECHR rulings made her “pessimistic”. But if it were no longer bound by the European Convention on Human Rights, the rule of law in Turkey would be void, she added.


‘Judicial struggle’

Akkoc filed applications with the ECHR in the 1990s, including over the killing of her husband and allegations that she was tortured during her 10-day custody in the southeastern Diyarbakir province in 1994.


In 2000, the court ruled that the Turkish state had failed to protect her husband’s life and that Akkoc’s treatment in custody, including electric shocks and blows to the head, amounted to torture.


“To be able to win a judicial struggle, to be able to see that justice works despite everything, gives you incredible energy,” Akkoc said.


Turkey had yet to fully implement 521 ECHR judgments and decisions as of Nov. 8, including 136 “leading” cases, which often concern new structural or systemic issues, the CoE spokesperson said.


The Kavala case has brought criticism from Turkey’s Western allies over a politicised judiciary. The Committee has also repeatedly called for pro-Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtas’ release.


WATCH:  Turkey’s Number #1 Political Prisoner Osman Kavala

Ayse Isil Erguvenc, a former ECHR judge and law professor at Istanbul’s Kadir Has University, said the proceedings were launched due to the ruling that Kavala’s detention served to silence him – the first such conviction of Turkey.


The Committee said in September officials should discuss further steps to be taken if Kavala is not released.


Erguvenc said this suggested the Committee prefers dialogue.


“The Committee of Ministers could have taken a much more radical decision here but it did not do so,” she added.


The CoE spokesperson said senior CoE representatives had “repeatedly underlined” member states’ “binding obligation” to implement ECHR judgments.


Turkey’s foreign ministry did not comment for this story. Ankara told the Committee last week Kavala’s appeal and an application with the Constitutional Court are still pending.


Follow our  English language YouTube videos  @ REAL TURKEY:   https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCKpFJB4GFiNkhmpVZQ_d9Rg


And content at Twitter: @AtillaEng


Facebook:  Real Turkey Channel:   https://www.facebook.com/realturkeychannel/






Published By: Atilla Yeşilada

GlobalSource Partners’ Turkey Country Analyst Atilla Yesilada is the country’s leading political analyst and commentator. He is known throughout the finance and political science world for his thorough and outspoken coverage of Turkey’s political and financial developments. In addition to his extensive writing schedule, he is often called upon to provide his political expertise on major radio and television channels. Based in Istanbul, Atilla is co-founder of the information platform Istanbul Analytics and is one of GlobalSource’s local partners in Turkey. In addition to his consulting work and speaking engagements throughout the US, Europe and the Middle East, he writes regular columns for Turkey’s leading financial websites VATAN and www.paraanaliz.com and has contributed to the financial daily Referans and the liberal daily Radikal.