Rik Daems, president of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), recalled the importance of dialogue to overcome challenges during a visit to Turkey March 29-31.
Daems was received by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and met with Parliament Speaker Mustafa Şentop, ministers, leaders of opposition parties, human rights defenders and representatives of civil society organizations.
In his meetings he discussed Turkey’s withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention, the Council of Europe’s (CoE) binding treaty to prevent and combat violence against women, and pointed out that it would be appropriate to hold a parliamentary debate on the issue in parliament, according to a press release from PACE.
President Erdoğan issued an executive decree on March 20 annulling Turkey’s ratification of the convention.
Daems, along with Heiko Maas, German federal minister for foreign affairs and chair of the CoE’s Ministers Committee, previously released a joint statement to express deep regret about Turkey’s move.
“We recall that the purpose of the Convention is to prevent violence against women, protect victims and prosecute perpetrators. It upholds women’s fundamental human right to a life free from violence. Leaving the Convention would deprive Turkey and Turkish women of a vital tool to counter violence,” the statement said.
During meetings with his counterparts the PACE president also raised other issues including the need for Turkey’s compliance with judgments of the European Court of Human Rights, the independence of country’s judiciary and the challenging environment in which political parties, human rights defenders and nongovernmental organizations operate in Turkey.