Today was the first day of the 2017 Human Dimension Implementation Meeting of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, a two-week conference that is held annually in Warsaw.
The plenary session this morning opened with a bang when the Turkish delegation announced that it was withdrawing from the conference because an NGO connected with Fethullah Gülen was in attendance. Henrik Clausen is at the conference this week, and sends the following report.
OSCE: Turkey refuses to even discuss Human Rights!
by Henrik Clausen
At the annual OSCE meeting in Warsaw the 57 OSCE participating States meet to discuss the progress or decline of human rights in the various states. This is a complicated exchange of facts and views between States and non-governmental organisations. This year, Turkey refused to even talk about it.
In the opening session on Monday 11th, Turkey took the floor to announce that its delegation would leave the conference, due to the presence of an NGO connected to Fethullah Gülen. The Ambassador read out some facts from last year’s coup attempt in Turkey, claiming that Gülen was behind the coup, and ended his intervention with a simple “Thank you, and goodbye!”
Thanks to Vlad Tepes for uploading this video of the Turkish delegate’s remarks:
Now, it’s a known fact that the Turkish response to the mysterious coup attempt has been extremely heavy-handed, and that Turkey would risk serious criticism for this at the OSCE conference. It is not a well-established fact that Fethullah Gülen or his organisation was behind the coup attempt. The speculation in the room was that the Turkish delegation may have been looking for a plausible excuse to exit and avoid criticism of the post-coup human rights situation in Turkey.
The Austrian OSCE chairmanship responded to the Turkish walkout by repeating that OSCE remains very open to non-government organisations, and that only organisations listed as terrorists would be excluded from attending. The chairmanship considered the absence of Turkey to be regrettable, that the OSCE way is to discuss matters from every possible point of view, and that excluding specific organisations was very much against the spirit of OSCE.
The prepared Turkish statement is here.
For links to previous articles about the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, see the OSCE Archives.