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Media Watch 2004

25 June 2004
Source: Cyprus Weekly
Author: Angelos Marcopoulos
Comment: The following article appeared in the Cyprus Weekly of Nicosia on 25 June 2004.
Turkish rights record ‘must continue to be examined’
"Erik Jurgens, the CoE’s Rapporteur on the European Court of Human Rights, said that it was “important for the credibility of the CoE that the Committee of Ministers resumes consideration of outstanding questions in the Loizidou case and that this should be done as soon as possible.”... [British MEP Terry Davies] said that ethnic cleansing “must be condemned whenever it takes place... I learned from Cypriot friends what roots mean. You can understand that if you ask a Cypriot the village he came from.”"

NORWAY’S Prime Minister who is the current chairman of the Council of Europe, stressed that Turkey’s human rights record must continue to be examined, despite a controversial decision by the CoE Assembly to end such monitoring.

“The CoE has to follow up to see that human rights are implemented in practice,’’ Kjell Magne Bondevik told The Cyprus Weekly. He was replying to a question on whether concerns over Turkey’s rights record would continue despite the assembly ruling to end monitoring because of steps by Turkey to improve the situation.

“Turkey has taken steps in the right direction to respect human rights,’’ Bondevik said.

“But I expect that the CoE in Strasbourg is following the Human Rights situation. A member country cannot forget that. Of course CoE has to follow up, to see that human rights to which Turkey is committed as a member have also been implemented in practice. This is important,’’ he said.

The vote ending monitoring, which was seen as a victory for Turkey, was adopted during a session of the assembly with less than half the members present.

Turkey was not so successful in connection with another vote of major importance for Cyprus. This vote, which was fiercely opposed by Turkey, asked the Turkish government to cooperate with United Nations agencies for a return of displaced persons or refugees.

“This must be done in safety and dignity,” declared the resolution, which automatically has a bearing on the future of the thousands of Greek Cypriot refugees whose return is ruled out in the controversial reunification plan of Kofi Annan,

In another important development for Cyprus, Erik Jurgens, the CoE’s Rapporteur on the European Court of Human Rights, said that it was “important for the credibility of the CoE that the Committee of Ministers resumes consideration of outstanding questions in the Loizidou case and that this should be done as soon as possible.”

Turkey agreed earlier this year following pressure from the CoE ministerial committee to comply with the Right Court’s judgement by paying compensation to Kyrenia refugee Titina Loizidou for the loss of use of her property. But the Committee gave Turkey until the end of 2005 to comply with the second part of the Court’s judgement, recognising Loizidou’s right to reposses her property.

The issue of the refugees’ right to return was also stressed by the the newly-elected Secretary-General of the CoE, British MEP Terry Davies. Replying to a Cyprus Weekly question, Davies said that ethnic cleansing “must be condemned whenever it takes place.”

Referring even more explictly to Cyprus, Davies said: “I learned from Cypriot friends what roots mean. You can understand that if you ask a Cypriot the village he came from.”

Davies made it clear that, as the new CoE Secretary-General, he does not intend to replace his UN counterpart Kofi Annan in the search for a Cyprus settlement.

“This is not the job of the CoE’s Secretary-General,’’ he said. But he added that as the new SG, he will do his best “to bring Greek and Turkish Cypriots together to talk on the island...at the end of the day it is for the people of Cyprus to get together abs find a solution that they can get along with.”

In a further reference to Cyprus, the head of the Russian delegation to the CoE, Konstantin Kosachev, the President of the Duma’s International Affairs Committee, said he was opposed to any moves to circumvent the legitimate Cyprus government in dealings with the breakaway Turkish Cypriot state.

“This is totally wrong and it would undermine any reunification process,’’ he told The Cyprus Weekly."