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Turkey: Statement by the President of the Congress following the arrest of the Mayor of Urla District

Presidency Strasbourg, France 18 December 2019
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Turkey: Statement by the President of the Congress following the arrest of the Mayor of Urla District

The President of the Congress made the following statement:

"The mayor of Urla district in Izmir District, Burak Oğuz, was elected following the expression of the will of the Turkish people in the local elections of 31 March 2019, which were observed by the Congress. His arrest yesterday by the Turkish authorities revives the concern about such practices, which we expressed last August.

The excessive recourse to judicial proceedings against local elected officials in Turkey and their replacement by appointed officials is seriously undermining the democratic choice of Turkish citizens and the proper functioning of local democracy in Turkey.

The Congress has consistently expressed its concern about this practice and called on the Turkish authorities to restore the capacity of municipal councils to allow them to choose a new mayor.

This issue will be carefully examined in the context of the report currently being prepared following the visit to Turkey, in October and November 2019, by a Congress delegation to monitor the application of the European Charter of Local Self-Government.”

Turkey ratified the European Charter of Local Self-Government in 1992. Countries that have ratified the Charter are bound by its provisions. The Charter requires respect for a minimum number of rights that constitute the first European basis of local self-government. The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe ensures that these principles are respected. The report on the situation of local and regional democracy in Turkey will be discussed for adoption at the 38th Session (17-19 March 2020).