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International Ombudsman Conference was held in Ankara

Thu, 01/12/2023 - 13:40

World Ombudsmen met at the international conference on "The Future of Human Rights in the 21st Century" organized jointly by the Ombudsman Institution and the European Union within the scope of the EU-funded "Technical Assistance Project for Empowerment of the Role of the Ombudsman in the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights".

Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Türkiye Ambassador Nikolaus Meyer-Landrut, Speaker of the Grand National Assembly of Türkiye Prof. Dr. Mustafa Şentop, Ombudsman of Türkiye Şeref Malkoç, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Director for EU Affairs Faruk Kaymakcı, and UNHCR Representative in Türkiye Philippe Leclerc delivered speeches at the International Ombudsman Conference.

Speaking at the conference, Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Türkiye Ambassador Nikolaus Meyer-Landrut stated:

Your Excellency, Mr President

Your Excellency, Speaker of the Parliament,

Distinguished Chief Ombudsman,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure for me to speak before this distinguished audience. 

Ombudsman offices are key institutions in mature and effective democracies. They provide an essential instrument for citizens and businesses to protect their rights against unlawful actions of the state, and to ensure that human rights and the principles of good administration are respected.

It follows from this that robust and effective Ombudsman offices can – and should - ensure that citizens have trust in their institutions, in their State.

For citizens, this ensures that they can enjoy the benefits of the social contract with the State.

For businesses, trust in a functioning and impartial administration is crucial, when they make decisions on their investments and their operations.

More and more, foreign investors are attracted to invest in countries where a robust, transparent, effective and independent legal system is in place.

Companies want to be sure that their investment is protected by the laws and the mechanisms of the state.

A vibrant Ombudsman – along with a professional bureaucracy and an independent judiciary - is therefore vital to any country, which wants to attract foreign direct investments.

This is obviously very important for Türkiye, which has an enormous potential given its geographical position, its developed infrastructure and its economic links with European supply chains and markets.

The EU supported the establishment of and the development of the Turkish Ombudsman. Our mutual objective was to enable the Ombudsman to help create a more effective, accountable and transparent public administration in Türkiye.

In total, the EU supported the Ombudsman with 4 projects, focused on building up the capacity of the institution in line with the European standards and good practices.

Numerous trainings were provided, the institution’s staff visited similar bodies in the EU, a legal assessment was carried out, workshops and awareness raising events were held, and internships were organised.

Also thanks to EU support, the young Turkish Ombudsman has accomplished a lot in a short period of time.

The case-load, the number of applications and the number of recommendations issued have increased impressively.

The Ombudsman, in the space of just ten years, has become a key instrument for legal remedy. This is an important achievement, and a solid basis on which to build the future of the institution.

 

To build such future, and to cement the crucial role of the Ombudsman, attention should be given to its ex-officio powers (i.e. the possibility to initiate investigations without a complaint) and to reinforcing its powers to provide legal remedies, including appealing to the Constitutional Court.

 

Addressing these issues would help further strengthen the effectiveness and independence of the Ombudsman institution and align it further with best practices.

 

Mr President, ladies and gentlemen,

It is very timely to reflect on the main theme of the symposium, the future of human rights, at this critical geo-political juncture of history.

The unprovoked, unjustified Russian aggression to Ukraine has brought war back to our common geography, with an appalling human cost.

 

This war of aggression is being pursued with cruel brutality - to deny Ukraine a sovereign country, its legitimacy and its internationally recognised borders.

It is being pursued with brutal military force, disregard for civilians and in violation of international laws. Serious war crimes are under investigation.

And we value and commend in this context the tireless efforts, you Mr President, are undertaking to alleviate some of the consequences of this war with the grain deal and by supporting the exchange of prisoners on humanitarian issues.

The theme of the conference, human rights, is also one of the key areas of our engagement with Türkiye.

Support for democracy, democratic institutions and the human rights ecosystem has been a cornerstone of EU-Türkiye relations from the onset.

Human rights and freedoms, rule of law and transparent governance are a crucial element underpinning the development of any democratic society, of any robust economy.

The EU is ready to support Türkiye in consolidating human rights, rule of law and independent institutions. Our support to the Ombudsman over the years re-affirms this commitment.

Thank you for your attention.