IN response to the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, H.E. Thorbjørn Jagland

Tacan İLDEM 29.03.2012
Statement by Permanent Representative of Turkey
Ambassador Tacan İldem In response to the Secretary General of the Council of Europe,
H.E. Thorbjørn Jagland

29 March 2012

I join the previous speakers in warmly welcoming Secretary General Jagland back to the Permanent Council and thank him for sharing with us his valuable views on how to improve the co-operation and co-ordination between the two Organizations.

We note with interest that the Co-ordination Group in its 15th meeting, held in Strasbourg on 9 March 2012, welcomed the sustained co-operation and the joint endeavours of both organizations in the areas of promoting gender equality, freedom of religion, combating hate crime, intolerance and discrimination against Roma and Sinti. We believe that intolerance and discrimination against all vulnerable groups including migrants should be duly tackled and the experience accumulated within both organizations in this area should be fully utilized.

Your personal involvement, Mr. Secretary General, in this area deserves high credit and appreciation. I would recall that in co-operation with the then Turkish Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers in 2010, you asked an independent “Group of Eminent Persons” to prepare a report on the challenges arising from the resurgence of intolerance and discrimination in Europe. Let me recall here that after assessing the seriousness of the risks, the Group found in its report that discrimination and intolerance were indeed widespread in Europe, particularly against Roma and immigrant communities, as well as people of recent migrant background, who are often treated as foreigners even in countries where they are both natives and citizen.

The Group also held that European societies need to embrace diversity, and accept that one can be a hyphenated European.

In your statement to the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly on 23 January 2012, you rightly stressed that democracies are under threat from growing populist tendencies in many parts of Europe and underlined the importance of insisting upon compliance with democratic norms and values.

Today, you have referred in your statement to the threat to democracy posed by populist and extremist discourse. One cannot agree more with you on that. We also share your view, Mr Secretary General, that “the old ghost nationalism is again visiting Europe”; and that “all nationalism comes from something bad, and always leads to something even worse.”

We welcome therefore your request from national authorities to clarify their position vis-à-vis xenophobic discourse, and we would urge all Governments to distance themselves from extremist and populist far-right movements. You were quite right when stressing, in your speech, the need for education policies to address intercultural issues and promote living with cultural diversity. In this vein we welcome the Council of Europe’s contribution for the development of the “Guidelines for Educators on Countering Intolerance and Discrimination against Muslims: Addressing Islamophobia through Education.”

Last but not least, I would like to express our appreciation for the continued co-operation between the OSCE and the Council of Europe on matters related to terrorism, combating financing of terrorism and money laundering. Many of our countries’ cooperation in the field of the judiciary related to terrorist cases are based on Council of Europe Conventions. Let me mention the European Convention of Extradition of 1957, and the European Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters of 1962. The legal expertise of the Council of Europe on these matters is an asset that OSCE participating States can all benefit from. We also welcome the expansion of co-operation between our two Organizations into new areas such as the promotion of public-private partnerships, countering terrorist use of internet and enhancing cyber security. Cyber security in particular is a topic that the OSCE is in the process of defining its role and possible contribution to international efforts. Co-operation with other international actors is of great importance in order to assess the strength and added-value of our organization in this field.

In conclusion, Mr Secretary General, we look forward to the continued co-operation between the OSCE and the Council of Europe in areas of common interest. We believe that the close relationship between the two Organizations will continue to promote human rights and contribute to the spread of democracy and security throughout Europe.

Thank you.