The functioning of democratic institutions in Turkey will take centre-stage at the Spring plenary part-session of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) to be held in Strasbourg from 24 to 28 April 2017. Other highlights on the agenda include debates on the situation of human rights in the North Caucasus, the increased income inequalities and the protection of refugee women from gender-based violence.

According to the release of the organization, His Majesty the King of Spain and the President of the Hellenic Republic, Prokopis Pavlopoulos, will be addressing the Assembly. The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Niels Muiznieks, will present his annual activity report 2016. Thorbjørn Jagland, Secretary General of the Council of Europe, will answer questions from parliamentarians, and Ioannis Kasoulides, the Cypriot Foreign Minister, will be speaking in the context of the Cypriot Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers.

Other highlights of the session will be the debates on proposal suggesting possible ways to conduct an external and independent investigation into the corruption allegations involving PACE members.

To remind, The Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum, together with other 55 prominent human rights and civil society organizations, jointly signed an appeal on to conduct a thorough and fair investigation on the corruption claims, related to the work of PACE on Azerbaijan, the Forum said in a released statement on Friday.

According to the source, the concern mainly stems from a recent report European Stability Initiative (ESI) issued in December 2016, denouncing the bribes offered by representatives of the Azerbaijani government to several PACE members in order to influence their work.