President of the Constitutional Court Zühtü Arslan,
Minister of Justice Abdulhamit Gül,
Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Faruk Kaymakci,
Ambassador of the EU Nikolaus Meyer-Landrut,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Good morning to you all – and the best greetings from Strasbourg!
It is an honour to be with you today to launch this joint EU – Council of Europe programme.
This is part of the wider and important co-operation, that exists between our two Organisations and our Turkish partners:
A co-operation that is intended to help strengthen human rights and the rule of law in Turkey.
Like all of the Council of Europe’s 47 member States, Turkey is a party to the European Convention on Human Rights, and is bound by the decisions and case-law of the Strasbourg Court.
The timing of today’s launch is highly symbolic: nine years ago, to the day, the Constitutional Court’s individual application mechanism became operational.
This innovation resulted from a reform process undertaken over several years, and which began with constitutional changes in 2004.
I am glad that the Council of Europe has been able to provide input and expert assistance to this very important reform process.
Today’s event is timely for another reason too: in early March, the President of Turkey presented the country’s new Human Rights Action Plan.
It is an ambitious approach, targeting action at a number of key areas, and improving access and observance of fundamental rights –
And it seeks specifically to step up the implementation of judgments by the Constitutional Court and the European Court of Human Rights.
Through this project, one intends to enhance the Constitutional Court’s internal mechanism for monitoring progress in this regard -
To increase lawyers’ and applicants’ knowledge about compliance with the Constitutional Court’s admissibility criteria –
And to expand access to expertise and co-operation between the Turkish judicial bodies and their European partners.
We will also support the update or improvement of national legislation in line with Constitutional Court judgments, in recognition of the important and positive role that the Court plays.
This project will benefit from the input of Council of Europe expert-bodies, including the European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice, the Venice Commission, the Consultative Council of European Judges, the Consultative Council of European Prosecutors, and our anti-corruption body GRECO.
I am confident that the Constitutional Court, and indeed all stakeholders in the Turkish judicial system will take advantage of the knowledge resources made available by these highly respected bodies and benefits from the outcomes of this programme, overall.
Finally, let me conclude by offering my thanks.
Firstly to the President of Turkey’s Constitutional Court for engaging in this project, and also for the very good co-operation between our institutions.
I am equally grateful to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Justice, and all our institutional partners in Turkey, for our positive joint work.
And last but not least, my thanks go to the Ambassador of the EU for the support extended to this and many other projects in Turkey, and for the excellent co-operation that we enjoy, in Turkey and elsewhere, in order to advance human rights, democracy and rule of law.
The engagement and dedication of each of these actors are needed in order for us to progress together.
All the best, and thank you for your attention.