Turkish Presidency of Council of Europe: Kox tells Turkey he wants to see ‘action’

12 November 2010

Turkish Presidency of Council of Europe: Kox tells Turkey he wants to see ‘action’

Since 1st November, Turkey has held the six-month rotating presidency of the Council of Europe. Turkish foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu has stated his desire ‘to strengthen the political role, the visibility and the influence of the oldest pan-European organisation on both the European and the international level.' He expressed this ambition in Antalya, during a meeting with the Parliamentary Assembly of the 47-member state organisation. SP Senator Tiny Kox, who chairs the Assembly’s United European Left political group, advised him to set an example.

Kox’s advice to the Turkish minister included five concrete ways in which his country could match deeds to words. ‘Put an end to all discrimination against Kurds in Turkey and guarantee their human rights. Only then will you be able to demand similar steps from other countries. Open Turkey’s harbours and airports for boats and flights from Cyprus, and make this a step on the way to ending the Cypriot division. Then you can tackle other stubborn European conflicts. Make progress with the European Union’s accession to the European Convention on Human Rights. Then you’ll really put the Council of Europe on the map. Cooperate well with us, because we represent national parliaments. And let’s work effectively, and ensure that our rapporteurs have unrestricted access to all European countries, including Turkey.'

Davutoglu said that he could appreciate such a concrete approach and that he was open to more advice and suggestions in the coming six months. President Gül, Premier Erdogan and he would be reporting in Strasbourg on how Turkey’s ambitions might be realised. These ambitions included a thorough modernisation of the Council of Europe and of the European Court of Human Rights. In addition, the Council of Europe must propose measures to combat increasing conflict and the many forms of discrimination.

The Assembly also accepted a proposal that more use should be made of ‘parliamentary diplomacy’. Kox explained that although ‘our conventional diplomats do a great deal of useful work,’ there were occasions on which ‘elected representatives could play a complementary role. They add a political and ideological dimension and are sometimes more flexible than governments and diplomats. Contacts amongst popular representatives can help to raise awareness of serious problems at an earlier stage and possibly do something before these problems lead to eruptions.' He said that the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe was a suitable platform for such parliamentary diplomacy, noting that it was a ‘meeting place for several hundred MPs from forty-seven member states. We must make better use of it,’ he added. ‘The need to match deeds to words goes for us, too.'

Possible uses of parliamentary diplomacy will shortly form the subject of a discussion in the Dutch Senate. In addition to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the SP Members of Parliament and Senators are active as representatives of the Netherlands on the assemblies of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and NATO.

You are here