Warning letter from the Committee of Ministers to Greece

Western Thrace
Sat, 10 Dec 2022 9:55 GMT
The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe is preparing to send a letter to Greece which has not executed the ECtHR judgments in the Bekir-Ousta Group of Cases for the past 15 years.
Warning letter from the Committee of Ministers to Greece

The Committee of Ministers is preparing to send a letter to Greece which has not executed the ECtHR judgments in the Bekir-Ousta Group of Cases for the past 15 years.

The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe held its meeting in Strasbourg on 6-8 December 2022 and examined the violation of the freedom of association by Greece as regards the Xanthi Turkish Union, the Cultural Association of Turkish Women of the Prefecture of Rodopi and the Evros Prefecture Minority Youth Association which belong to the Turkish community in Western Thrace within the framework of the Bekir-Ousta and Others Group of Cases. 

In its decision taken at its 1451th meeting, the Committee of Ministers, under Article 46 § 1 of the Convention, underlined the unconditional obligation of the respondent states to fully and effectively execute all judgments against them and noted again with the utmost concern that the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) with respect to the Bekir-Ousta and Others Group of Cases have not been executed for the past 15 years. 

The Committee noted that the applications of these three associations were rejected despite the legislative amendment adopted by Greece in 2017 which allowed the reopening of the impugned proceedings, and that “restitutio in integrum” for the applicant associations in these cases has not yet been achieved. 

Indicating that the Committee furthermore expressed its grave concern with respect to the Court of Cassation judgments of 31 August 2022 No. 1405/2022 and 1406/2022 rejecting the associations’ appeals concerning Emin and Others and Bekir-Ousta and Others and thus finding the decisions not to register them lawful on certain grounds already expressly impugned by the European Court in its final judgments of 2008 (related to the promotion of the idea of existence of an ethnic minority in Greece); it further spelled out its most profound regret that the Court of Cassation did not take into consideration an essential element underscored by the European Court that the members of the aforementioned associations have never advocated the use of violence or undemocratic or unconstitutional means and that no evidence was presented showing the opposite.

It also added that the Greek authorities did not propose any further measures able to provide “restitutio in integrum” to the Xanthi Turkish Union and the registration of the other two associations by applying the judgments of the ECtHR during the consultations between the Secretariat of the Committee of Ministers and Greek authorities which were held on 3-4 November 2022. 

The Committee of Ministers, which went one step further in its decisions in face of Greece’s persistent failure to execute the ECtHR judgments, decided to invite the Chair of the Committee of Ministers to send a letter to the Greek authorities which would convey the Committee’s deep concern about the present situation and urging them to take adopt swiftly measures allowing the full and effective execution of the Court’s judgments.  
In its decision, the Committee of Ministers said that in circumstances where the judgments rendered by the Court of Cassation in the three cases could not be appealed, the authorities should consider other possible avenues to fully and effectively execute the judgments of the European Court and prevent the recurrence of similar violations.

Moreover, the Committee of Ministers called upon the Greek authorities to consider amending the system concerning the registration of associations to thus favour the registration of associations without any prior control of their legality, when domestic law provides for clauses allowing the monitoring of their relevant activities after they have been established. 

The committee decided to resume the examination of the Bekir-Ousta Group of Cases in June 2023.

STATEMENT FROM ABTTF

Halit Habip Oğlu, President of the Federation of Western Thrace Turks in Europe (ABTTF) made the following statement: 

“In its decision taken at its meeting in Strasbourg, the Committee of Ministers went one step further and decided that the Chair of the Committee should send a letter to the Greek authorities, as the Committee of Ministers also saw that our country did not intend to execute the three judgments with respect to the Bekir-Ousta Group of Cases. Indeed, as stated in the decision, the Court of Cassation repeated that the decisions of the national courts regarding the non-registration of our Rodopi and Evros associations was in accordance with the law, and at this point, the Court of Cassation clearly showed that it did not take into account the judgments of the ECtHR, nor the subsequent decisions of the Committee of Ministers

Therefore, the Committee wants the legislation on registration of associations to be simplified in order to prevent similar violations in the future. Yes, the Committee of Ministers did not comply with the request of our applicant associations and us to initiate the infringement procedure, but in this decision it went one step further. 

We are aware that this decision does not satisfy our community, but the Committee of Ministers continued to use the tools at its disposal, and this time, with the letter it will write to Greece, it took a step not only legally but also politically.

All these events are very damaging in terms of proof that the rule of law is impaired in our country and with respect to our country’s reputation in the international arena, but it seems that our country does not care about this at all’’.

For the full text of the decision click below: 

https://search.coe.int/cm/pages/result_details.aspx?objectid=0900001680a9377e

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