Anders Knape, President of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe, made the following statement:
I express my grave concern about the decision of the Turkish authorities to suspend the elected mayors of three metropolitan cities in the south-east of the country, namely Diyarbakir, Mardin and Van, and to replace them with governors.
These mayors were elected as a result of the free and fair expression of the will of the Turkish people during the local elections held on 31 March 2019, which were observed by the Congress.
In the past, the Congress expressed its concern about the excessive use of legal proceedings against local elected representatives in Turkey and their replacement by appointed officials. This practice seriously undermines the proper functioning of local democracy.
I also refer to the Congress Recommendation on the situation of local elected representatives in Turkey, adopted in 2017, and I call on the Turkish authorities to address this issue without delay and in particular to restore the capacity of municipal councils to choose a replacement mayor.
The Congress Bureau will continue to follow this situation closely, in particular at its next meeting in Strasbourg on 11 September 2019. This situation will also be addressed during the monitoring mission planned from 1 to 4 October 2019 which aims to assess the implementation of the principles of the European Charter of Local Self-Government in Turkey.