EU voices serious concerns over the constitutional amendments in Turkey

The European Union (EU) High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini and Commissioner Johannes Hahn have expressed serious concerns on the constitutional amendments in Turkey by saying that it will cause excessive concentration of powers in one office with serious effect on the necessary checks and balances and on the independence of the judiciary,

A joint statement has been released by Mogherini and  Hahn on the Venice Commission’s opinion on the amendments to the Constitution of Turkey and recent events in the country. EU’s top officials have stated that they have taken good note of the Venice Commission’s Opinion on the amendments to the Constitution of the Republic of Turkey adopted by the Parliament on 21 January 2017.

As highlighted by the Venice Commission’s Opinion, the EU officials stated that Turkey has the sovereign right to decide over its system of governance. The EU officials stated in the press statement that they acknowledged the fact that the country is going through challenging times and stand by it in its fight against the scourge of terrorism. The officials also reiterated their support for Turkey’s hospitality to refugees from war-torn areas in its close vicinity.

Stating that the Venice Commission’s comments on the proposed Constitutional amendments raise serious concerns at the excessive concentration of powers in one office, with serious effect on the necessary checks and balances and on the independence of the judiciary, the statement reminded that “It is also of concern that this process of constitutional change is taking place under the state of emergency.”

The statement has continued as follow: “The proposed amendments, if approved at the referendum of 16 April, and especially their practical implementation, will be assessed in light of Turkey’s obligations as an EU candidate country and as a member of the Council of Europe.

We encourage Turkey to pursue and further deepen its close cooperation with the Council of Europe and its bodies, and to address their concerns and recommendations.

Following the tensions of these last days between Turkey and some EU Member States, it is essential to avoid further escalation and find ways to calm down the situation. Decisions with regard to the holding of meetings and rallies in Member States are a matter for the Member State concerned, in accordance with the applicable provisions of international and national law.

The European Union calls on Turkey to refrain from excessive statements and actions that risk further exacerbating the situation. Matters of concern can only be resolved through open and direct communication channels. We will continue to provide our good offices in the interest of EU-Turkey relations.”

March 13, 2017

 

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