Chair of CoR's Working Group on Turkey expresses concern at withdrawal from Istanbul Convention and pressure on opposition
Ahead of an important discussion on Turkey at the European Council on 25-26 March, the chairman of the Working Group on relations with Turkey of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) has emphasised that all countries seeking EU membership must abide by rule-of-law principles.
Jens Christian Gjesing (DK/PES), a member of Haderslev municipal council, said in his capacity as chairman of the CoR's Working Group on Turkey: "As countries wishing to join the European Union, candidate countries must take stronger action in order to strengthen the rule of law and justice, guarantee fundamental rights, freedom and security, and firmly endorse the protection of minorities. Turkey has moved further away from this through actions taken last week. The protection of women and girls against any kind of violence is not a matter of choice and we need to ensure that all essential legal protection for them is in place as advocated by the Istanbul Convention."
On 20 March, Turkey announced its withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention on preventing and combatting violence against women and domestic violence.
Mr Gjesing also joined the EU's High Representative/Vice-President and European Commissioner for the Neighbourhood and Enlargement in expressing concern at a lawsuit against the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and a decision to strip an HDP member of Turkish Grand National Assembly – Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu – of his parliamentary seat and parliamentary immunity. Mr Gjesing said: "Pluralism in politics is a fundamental value for our democracies."
The chairman of the CoR's Working Group with Turkey also expressed his hope that the European Council and Turkish authorities would take confidence-building measures to enable the development of a more positive EU-Turkey agenda. He stressed the role of city diplomacy as a means of contributing to a more positive agenda, stating that contacts between local and regional authorities keep lines of communication open, promote trust, and help to deepen people-to-people relations and to bring other benefits to citizens.
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