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POLITICS > ‘We have to implement it, but we don't have to respect it,’ Turkish PM says on Twitter ruling

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Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan speaks to journalists alongside Energy Minister Taner Yıldız in Ankara's Esenboğa airport before their departure to Azerbaijan for a bilateral visit, Apr. 4. AA Photo

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan speaks to journalists alongside Energy Minister Taner Yıldız in Ankara's Esenboğa airport before their departure to Azerbaijan for a bilateral visit, Apr. 4. AA Photo

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has publicly expressed his discomfort at the Turkish Constitutional Court’s ruling to unblock access to Twitter, describing the move as an attempt to protect “an American company’s product.”

“We have to implement [the ruling], but we don't have to respect it," Erdoğan said April 4 in Ankara ahead of a trip to Baku.

Erdoğan maintained that the decision disregarded Turkey’s “national values.” “Not only Twitter, but YouTube and Facebook are commercial companies as well. I don’t find it right and patriotic that the Constitutional Court has adopted such a decision two days after a direct application in which there were so many files waiting to be reviewed at the Constitutional Court. While they are protecting an American company, our national and moral values are being disregarded,” he said, also questionning the legality of the ruling.

“The decision was adopted without an appeal to the first instance courts and exhausting all legal avenues through directly applying to the Constitutional Court. The court should have refused it. Second, I don’t find the freedom approach appropriate because [Twitter] is a commercial company,” Erdoğan said.

“I want it to be known that when this decision was made, no precedents in the United States, in France or Spain had been taken into consideration,” he said.

Erdoğan’s remarks may add more fuel to the debate as Turkey’s Telecommunications Directorate (TİB) had not moved to unblock Twitter despite a stay of execution issued by an Ankara administrative court.

The Turkish government subsequently further tightened its grip, blocking YouTube, and widening the ban by implementing a controversial DNS policy.

The Constitutional Court, which swiftly considered a number of individual applications filed following the blocking, unanimously ruled that the ban was a violation of free speech guaranteed by Article 26 of the Constitution on April 2.

Twitter was banned March 20 hours after Erdoğan vowed to “eradicate” the popular social media network during an election rally.

Erdoğan agrees with Gül over presidency

Asked about upcoming presidential elections, Erdoğan said he agreed with President Abdullah Gül’s statement that the two men would sit down and come to a decision following discussions. “I also share our president’s approach that we will decide upon the issue following discussions between us,” he told reporters.

Erdoğan also said he was personally against changing the three-term limit for ruling party lawmakers, but added that such a decision could be taken at the party’s convention. The remarks were seen by political commentators as a hint that Erdoğan may opt to continue as prime minister.

Turkey's prime minister also ruled out the much-speculated possibility of early general elections. "Organizing both elections [presidential and general] is beside the mark. Our party has a principled decision on early elections. Until we came to power, an election was held every 16 months in the history of Turkish Republic. Can you have stability in such a country?" Erdoğan said.

April/04/2014

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