IN RESPONSE TO THE ADDRESS BY AMBASSADOR JANEZ LENARCIC DIRECTOR OF THE OSCE OFFICE FOR DEMOCRATIC INSTITUTIONS AND HUMAN RIGHTS

Tacan İLDEM 15.03.2012
STATEMENT BY AMBASSADOR TACAN İLDEM, PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF TURKEY
IN RESPONSE TO THE ADDRESS BY AMBASSADOR JANEZ LENARCIC DIRECTOR OF THE OSCE OFFICE FOR DEMOCRATIC INSTITUTIONS AND HUMAN RIGHTS
905th PERMANENT COUNCIL
15 March 2012

Mr. Chairperson,

Let me begin by expressing our warm welcome to Ambassador Lenarcic in our midst. Ambassador, we have listened to your comprehensive presentation with great interest and attention.

The activities undertaken by ODIHR as well as the issues raised by Ambassador Lenarcic highlight the significance of the work of this prominent institution, and more importantly the requirement for the continuous political support of the participating States.

In the interest of brevity, I would like to limit my intervention with only few of the elements that appear to be the subject of our discussion today.

Last year we once again had the opportunity to benefit from the expertise of the Office on election monitoring. We appreciate the effort by ODIHR for having allocated time and resources to dispatch an assessment mission to Turkey to follow the general elections that was held on 12 June. Overall, the presence and activities of ODIHR’s mission was characterized as a mutually beneficial dialogue and cooperation. It was with that sense of appreciation that the final report of the Election Assessment Mission was closely and attentively studied by the Turkish authorities.

In the meantime, we are in the process of gathering the assessments of different relevant institutions vis-à-vis the final report with a view to preparing the necessary ground for a separate follow-up visit by ODIHR experts.

Turkey will continue to support ODIHR in its election monitoring activities, also through seconding long and short term observers for the elections in different parts of the OSCE.

Freedom of religion or belief remains one of the areas that deserve constant attention of the participating States, of the institutions and of the OSCE in general. Not least its impact on individuals and communities, but also its correlation with tolerance and non-discrimination brought the exercise of this freedom high on the agenda of the organization.

On the other hand, the challenges imposed to freedom of religion or belief within the OSCE have gone beyond the mere concept of tolerance and increasingly accompanied by violence regardless of the religion and identity of the believers.

In this respect, we noted with satisfaction the announcement of Ambassador Lenarcic of the plans for an institutional restructuring of the Advisory Panel of Experts on Freedom of Religion or Belief. It is our sincere hope that new composition and the working methodology of the Advisory Panel, under the political guidance of the ODIHR, will yield much desired results in terms of embracing the whole OSCE region and all religions and beliefs.

Turkey commends the work and the dedication of ODIHR on combating hate crimes. We cannot but express a word of encouragement to continue its activities aiming at raising awareness and building capacity of the civil society.

Nevertheless it is with profound regret that not a single week, if not a day, passes without instances of racism and xenophobia. Only last week, various reports covering considerable number of countries were introduced and raised serious question marks on the maturity of democratic standards. Unless we urgently devise effective tools to tackle them, peace, stability and security in the OSCE area could be further affected. We believe that ODIHR can play an important role in encouraging the participating States to be more attentive and diligent.

In this context, we appreciate and welcome the recent press release of Ambassador Adil Ahmetov, the Personal Representative of the Chairperson-in-Office on Combating Intolerance and Discrimination against Muslims in drawing attention to these threats.

Before concluding, allow me to join previous speakers in their sentiments and calls in relation to the situation of Roma and Sinti.

I would like to wish the Director of ODIHR and his able team every possible success in their future endeavors.

Thank you.