In his first public comments about Turkey’s withdrawal from an international treaty commonly known as the Istanbul Convention, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said the move was completely legal and that Turkey is free to make its own decisions.
Erdoğan unleashed a wave of national and international condemnation and criticism after he issued a presidential decree in the early hours of Saturday, announcing Turkey’s pullout from the treaty.
The 2011 Istanbul Convention, signed by 45 countries and the European Union, of which Turkey was the first, requires governments to adopt legislation prosecuting domestic violence and similar abuse as well as marital rape and female genital mutilation.
“The step taken by the presidency [on the Istanbul Convention] is completely legal, and we will stay on this path. We made a decision. We can adopt [the treaty] and we can withdraw from it whenever we want,” Erdoğan told reporters following Friday prayers in İstanbul.
Turkey’s decision to withdraw from the convention was met with criticism from several international leaders.
US President Joe Biden said Turkey’s withdrawal from the accord was “deeply disappointing” and a step backward in efforts to end violence against women globally.
High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and CoE Secretary-General Marija Pejcinovic were among European leaders who heavily criticized the withdrawal.
United Nations agencies also called on Turkey to reconsider its decision.