Statement by Anna Rurka regarding the case of Xanthi Turkish Union (Tourkiki Enosi Xanthis)
As President of the Council of Europe’s Conference of INGOs, I recall that the lawful free activity of civil society is essential for democracy. As the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission noted in an opinion concerning NGOs, the right to freedom of association is “a unique human right whose respect serves in a way as a barometer of the general standard of the protection of human rights and the level of democracy in the country”.
I share the deep concern expressed last month by the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers about the fact that, 12 years after judgments of the European Court of Human Rights finding violations of this right, the registration applications of three associations (including Tourkiki Enosi Xanthis) still have not been re-examined by domestic courts on their merits in the light of the European Court’s case law. As a result, two of the associations concerned remain unregistered and Tourkiki Enosi Xanthis remains dissolved. Dissolving and not registering associations which have shown no indication that their members have ever used violence or rejected democratic principles is especially alarming.
I urge all Greek public authorities concerned to consider the specific European Court of Human Rights’ case law on the right to freedom of association, as well as the concerns of the Committee of Ministers regarding the Tourkiki Enosi Xanthis case and the others pending before the Committee.