PACE to observe referendum in Turkey

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The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) / AFP PHOTO / FREDERICK FLORIN

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) announced on Monday that it will send a 20-member delegation to Turkey to observe the conduct of a referendum on constitutional amendments, alongside observers from the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR).

According to the PACE statement, the delegation, led by Cezar Florin Preda (Romania, EPP/CD), will travel to Turkey following an invitation from the authorities. The delegation will be in Turkey from April 14-17 and will meet with leaders and representatives of political parties in favor of both “yes” and “no” votes and the president of the Supreme Election Board (YSK), as well as representatives of the media and NGOs, before observing the vote on April 16.

In January, PACE Monitoring Committee expressed concern in a statement about the content of proposed constitutional reforms and the conditions under which a referendum will be held in Turkey.

“The Monitoring Committee expresses serious doubts about the desirability of holding a referendum under the state of emergency and on-going security operations in southeast Turkey,” PACE said in a statement adopted in Strasbourg.

The Monitoring Committee said: “The committee has deep concerns as to whether the revised constitution — which will grant extensive powers to the President of the Republic — would guarantee the separation of powers, proper checks and balances and the independence of the judiciary, which are a prerequisite for democratic societies.”

In March, the Council of Europe’s constitutional law experts, the Venice Commission, warn against a one-person regime in Turkey in a definitive, as-adopted, opinion on proposed constitutional amendments to be put to a referendum on April 16.

According to a statement released by Directorate of Communications of the Council of Europe, the Venice Commission warns that by removing necessary checks and balances, the amendments would not follow the model of a democratic presidential system based on the separation of powers and instead would risk degeneration into an authoritarian presidential system.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Turkey would not recognize reports of the Venice Commission.

“We do not recognize your reports. We will not recognize them in the future, either, for your information,” said Erdoğan.

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