“I am deeply concerned about continued arrests, over the last days, of democratically elected representatives from the opposition in Turkey, notably of Mr Ayhan Bilgen, Co-Mayor of the city of Kars in the south-east of the country, who is a member of our Congress. This morning, news arrived about further detentions including also Co-Mayor Ms Şevin Alaca”, stressed Anders Knape, President of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe in a statement today.
“Regrettably, the decision of the Turkish authorities to oust Mr Bilgen from his office on grounds of alleged terrorist links is another attempt to undermine local self-government in the country and deny millions of voters the right to express their will in elections. The Congress has repeatedly denounced the excessive use of legal proceedings against local elected representatives in Turkey and their replacement by state-appointed trustees”, the Congress President recalled.
Further to the observation of the local elections held in 2019 in Turkey, the Congress brought this serious issue to the attention of the Venice Commission which found it in violation of Turkey’s international commitments in a legal Opinion adopted on 18 June 2020. “Against the backdrop of this recent blow to local democracy, the Turkish State authorities should change their policy and implement the recommendations of the Venice Commission to repeal the decisions on removal of local elected representatives from their office”, Mr Knape concluded.