Franco-German Human Rights and Rule of Law Award - Friday, December 8 [tr]
Dear Martin, Dear Professor Altiparmak,
Ladies and Gentlemen, dear colleagues,
It’s a great pleasure for me to welcome all of you to the French Embassy ! We are gathered here today to celebrate the presentation of the French-German Award for Human Rights and the Rule of Law.
This award was created last year by the Foreign Ministers of our two countries. 15 eminent individuals representing 15 different countries have been selected in the world to receive this honour, among them, Professor Kerem Altiparmak from Turkey. Congratulations Professor for this award which means that Germany and France want to pay tribute to you and to recognize your valuable contribution to the protection and promotion of Human Rights.
This event takes place just before another celebration, the 69th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted on the 10th of December 1948.
The principles and rights that are enshrined in this Declaration are as relevant today as they were in 1948. They continue to be at the heart of the European project and of the European values that we share with Turkey as a founding member of the Council of Europe and candidate country to the EU.
Human rights in all their forms must be constantly protected. Security is obviously a precondition for the full respect of our freedoms. But the “passion for security” should not make us ignore the “passion for freedom”. Protecting fundamental rights is not tying our hands, it is protecting our citizens and our values. France has been confronted by this challenge as when my country had to declare the state of emergency after the terrorist attacks of November 2015. This difficult balance between security and freedom is at the core of your work Professor.
In the case of Turkey, we all know how it is confronted by many and very serious security threats and we all have in mind the terrible trauma created for the whole country by the coup attempt of last year. The French authorities have always said that Turkey has every right to fight terrorism, in all its forms, and we are very supportive of Turkey in its ambition to stay a stable, secure, democratic and open country.
But we’ve also said that this fight has to be waged under the rule of law, the measures taken by the Turkish authorities have to be proportionate to the threats and Turkey has to fulfill its international and European commitments.
For instance, it’s essential to have access to a fair trial and to preserve the presumption of innocence. It’s essential to protect the freedom of expression, particularly for journalists. It’s essential to support academic freedom and that’s why I attended the trial, last Tuesday in Istanbul, of academics who signed the petition of January 2016, particularly those of Galatasaray University which, I would remind you, was created by a bilateral agreement 25 years ago and is a cornerstone of the cooperation between France and Turkey. Finally, it’s essential to allow LGBT events to take place in this country and LGBT people to assert their rights safely and with dignity.
With these concerns in mind, the French position has been expressed by President Macron : even if Turkey has moved away from some European values, France wants to pursue its dialogue with Turkey which is a strategic and vital partner for us and we will continue to help and support all those who fight for human rights, fundamental freedoms and rule of law.
Dear Professor Altiparmak,
You are one of those we wish to help and support and that is the reason for this award. And through you, it’s in fact a mark of recognition and gratitude expressed to all human rights defenders in Turkey. We know that your struggle is not always easy but it is essential not only for Turkey and its people but also for all of us.
Once again all my congratulations dear Professor and now I will leave the floor to my friend Martin who is going to talk more about you and your activities.