1/15/2021 Attending the Council of Europe’s 16th Conference of Ministers Responsible for Sport, Minister of Youth and Sports Dr. Mehmet Muharrem Kasapoğlu indicated that Turkey, as part of Europe, would continue proactively contributing in sports.

Minister Kasapoğlu attended the Council of Europe’s 16th Conference of Ministers Responsible for Sport via teleconference. Making a speech at the meeting that was moderated by Greek Deputy Minister of Sports and Culture Lefteris Avgenakis, Minister Kasapoğlu reminded that Turkey became a member of the Enlarged Partial Agreement on Sport (EPAS), which organized the conference, in January of 2020 and that the teleconference was significant the way that it was the first Conference of Ministers to be held after Turkey became a member of the EPAS family.

Indicating that Turkey attached great importance to the strong cooperation and communication it has with European countries in terms of sharing of experience and good practices, Minister Kasapoğlu said, “I am pleased to observe that the EPAS provides a framework that reinforces the cooperation we have built across Europe in the area of sports and yields positive results in terms of improving sportive standards in Europe. As part of Europe, we will continue proactively contributing in sports”. 

Indicating that it has been better understood during the current pandemic that physical activity was a vital need and exercise was important, Minister Kasapoğlu expressed that they launched an awareness movement with the slogan ‘Stay Home, But Do not Stay Still” to promote physical activity, and that it had been fruitful.

Indicating that they drew on the constructive, unifying and transformative power of sports in all fields, Minister Kasapoğlu said, “We have maximized the cooperation among non-governmental organizations, the private sector and public institutions in Turkey through the Young Volunteers Platform and implemented extensive volunteer programs. In this sense, I believe that the sports’ ability to mobilize people around volunteering can be made use of for a collective life that respects the nature and the environment”.

Pointing out that he found the emphasis put on environmental sustainability in the revised European Sports Charter to be important, Minister Kasapoğlu said:

“Likewise, we voluntarily support the priority of organizing sports organizations in an environment-friendly manner. In Turkey, we have taken very significant and fundamental steps particularly in the last 20 years in terms of facility infrastructure and the legislation. This way, everyone living in our country, particularly our athletes and young people, can engage in sports in the branch of their own choosing with the most modern means. Such improvement in sports makes us very happy”.

Minister Kasapoğlu also stressed that they made the best use of the motivating power of sports to enhance the social cohesion of young people who were forced to migrate to Turkey and they were observing the positive improvements in this area.

Pointing to the fact that the changes in technology, politics, health and economy since 2001 had had significant effects on human rights, democracy, rule of law, and inevitably the sports, Minister Kasapoğlu added:

“We understand and support that this has made it necessary to revise the European Sports Charter to incorporate the principles of good governance in sports. A universal and ethical sports ideal that goes beyond differences of language, religion, race, nationality, age and economic status is a keystone in terms of observing and exercising human rights in sports. In this context, I believe in supporting the efforts made for recognition of engaging in sports as a human right. We have a long road ahead to take steps in protecting human rights effectively in all branches of sports. We are wiling to put all relevant initiatives into mutual practices within the frame of both the EPAS and bilateral relations. It is highly important to us that all legal mechanisms related to sports observe human rights in their evaluations”.

Indicating that he believed in the importance of autonomy of the sports movement in terms of improving sportive quality and he thought that such structure could be protected better by supervising it with national and international norms, Minister Kasapoğlu said, “Accordingly, we are improving or legislation to establish the right of fair play in sports and protect the rights of all stakeholders of sports. I believe that the mighty steps that we will take together will render sports more inclusive and more conforming to the international norms within the frame of human rights”. 

Expressing that he hoped to overcome the pandemic as soon as possible and meet face to face at the 17th Conference of Ministers, Minister Kasapoğlu indicated that he would be happy if the next Conference of Ministers was hosted by Turkey, as one of the newest members of the EPAS.