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Erdoğan: Turkey won’t wait at Europe’s door forever

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Turkey will not wait at Europe’s door forever and is ready to walk away from EU accession talks if rising Islamophobia and hostility from some member states persist, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told Reuters in a wide-ranging interview on April 25.Speaking at his presidential palace less than two weeks after scoring a tight victory in an April 16 referendum on constitutional amendments, Erdoğan said a decision by a leading European human rights body to put Turkey back on a watch list was “entirely political” and that Ankara did not recognize the move. The Strasbourg-based Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) said it put Turkey back on review over its wave of arrests since the July 2016 coup attempt, rights violations and concerns about Erdoğan’s increased grip on power.

The Monitoring Committee of PACE decided to request the Venice Commission’s opinion on amendments to the constitution in Turkey

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A delegation of the Venice Commission, headed by Honorary President Hanna Suchocka, has arrived in Turkey to hold talks with Turkish authorities on the recent constitutional amendments. The visit is conducted within the framework of the preparation of an opinion on the constitutional amendments requested by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. The draft opinion of the delegation will be discussed by the Venice Commission in plenary in March 2017. The delegation visited Turkish Bar Association head MetinFeyzioğlu. He said the bar is an institution responsible for protecting the supremacy of human rights and law, informing the public and fighting against violations. The Monitoring Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) also decided to request the Venice Commission’s opinion on the draft law regarding amendments to the constitution, which is due to be voted on in Turkey in a referendum in early April. The Venice Commission is expected to focus on the extent to which the principle of separation of powers is preserved and whether the new system will introduce effective checks and balances, though its report is not expected to be ready before mid-March. The commission had earlier visited the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) in parliament on Feb. 20. The Venice Commission, which is the constitutional consultative body of the Council of Europe, visited Turkey on Feb. 6 to investigate the current embattled state of media freedom under the ongoing state of emergency.

Plotnitskiy and Zakharchenko met Savchenko in Minsk to discuss an “all-for-all” prisoner exchange

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Savchenko, a Batkivshchyna Party lawmaker, PACE delegate and former helicopter pilot in the Ukrainian Army, was illegally imprisoned in Russia for more than two years on charges of being complicit in the murder of two Russian journalists. She was elected to Parliament in absentia, made a member of the Ukrainian delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, and became a symbol of Ukraine’s defiance against Kremlin aggression.The press service of the Russian-backed armed groups currently in control of part of Luhansk confirmed that Plotnitskiy and Zakharchenko, the leaders of the Russian-backed armed groups in Luhanks and Donesk oblasts respectively, had met with her in Minsk and discussed how to launch an “all-for-all prisoner exchange” under the Minsk process.

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