John Howell and Boriss Cilevics, the co-rapporteurs for the monitoring of Turkey by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (CoE), have said that Turkey's expulsion from the Council of Europe would be a “disaster.”
“I hope that Turkey would not be expelled from the Council of Europe. This would be a disaster for Turkey and everyone else other Turkey,” Howell said in remarks to Turkey's ANKA news agency.
Also commenting on the case of jailed philantrophist Osman Kavala, PACE -rapporteur Cilevics said: “Within the Council of Europe, we jointly need Turkey. And Turkey needs the Council of Europe in a practical sense. But of course, we will not overlook the serious problems with regards to the rule of law, especially concerning the Kavala case which was the reason why the infringement proceedings were launched.”
The two PACE rapporteurs ended their three-day visit to Istanbul and Ankara. The pair met with Justice Ministry officials, Kavala's lawyers and representatives of various NGOs during the visit. They however could not meet with Kavala as their application was turned down by the Justice Ministry.
Cilevics said they were “deeply saddened” by not being able to visit Kavala in prison. “We wanted to visit him in prison. Of course, we are deeply saddened that this was not possible...I hope that we can meet with Osman Kavala in our next visit and I hope that this becomes outside the prison,” he said.
The Committee of Ministers, the executive organ of the Council of Europe, on Feb. 2 voted on the transfer of the Osman Kavala case to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). With this ruling, the infringement procedure against Turkey has officially started.
The infringement proceedings may eventually lead to the suspension of Turkey’s voting rights or membership from the Strasbourg-based body.