Though angry, Turkey sticks with Council of Europe
Turkey's military rulers have reacted sharply to the recent decision of Council of Europe legislators charging Turkey with human-rights violations and calling for an early return to democracy.Skip to next paragraph
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The resolution fell short of expelling Turkey from the European body, as some of the parliamentarians, particularly socialists and communists, had asked for.
The Turkish government was angered by the strong criticism expressed by several assembly members in Strasbourg Jan. 28. At one point it was felt that the Turkish generals were seriously considering pulling Turkey out of the Council of Europe - a step that would have marked a major foreign policy change.
The 21-member Council of Europe promotes common action for economic and social progress.
However, the assembly's final decision not to oust Turkey from the organization, and a realistic reconsideration by the Turkish generals of the consequences of Turkey's withdrawal from the council avoided a crisis in Turkey's relations with that body - and with the West in general.
In fact, Western diplomats here were relieved by the council's decision not to oust Turkey and Ankara's decision not to severe its ties with that organization.
However, the assembly's resolution condemning Turkey's violations of basic rights and freedoms and demanding the prompt restoration of a true parliamentary and democratic system has caused resentment in the nation's ruling quarters.
Gen. Kenan Evren, the head of state, replying to the various claims and accusations in the assembly's resolution, hinted that the Turkish government will henceforth treat the Council of Europe, as well as the European allies, in a different way.
He said that Turkey will not recognize assembly decisions that have the character of interference in the country's domestic affairs. Essentially this means it will not permit investigations to be conducted here (such as in courts and jails).
''. . . Turkey will not tolerate any initiative interfering in its domestic affairs and will not accept that Turkey be put on the agenda of the consultative assembly,'' General Evren said. ''As from now, our relations with the Council of Europe will be with the council of ministers only, and these relations will be determined by the attitude of the member governments.''
Several points in the resolution angered the military rulers and a good section of public opinion here. The call for the early return to democracy is regarded as unnecessary since General Evren had announced in his new year message the timetable providing for a new constitution, a public referendum on it, and general elections within two years.
As to the claims of torture, and condemnation of arrests of ''political prisoners'' and mass trials, the official answer to these charges is that any allegation of torture is seriously examined.
The official version of the imprisonment of former Social Democratic leader Bulent Ecevit, who was released Feb. 1 after serving a two-month sentence, is that he violated a law forbidding former politicians from making political statements.
Ecevit remarked on the recent Council of Europe decision, ''The true friends of the Turkish people are those who believe the Turkish people deserve a similar democracy of their own.''