CHP, TBB not to appear at Turkey’s judicial year opening amid impartiality row

CHP, TBB not to appear at Turkey’s judicial year opening amid impartiality row

CHP, TBB not to appear at Turkey’s judicial year opening amid impartiality row

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Turkey’s main opposition party and the Union of Bar Associations (TBB) will not participate in this year’s ceremony for the opening of the judicial year on Sept. 1, complaining that it will undermine the separation of powers as it will be held at the presidential palace in Ankara. 

The decision comes despite a last minute call from Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım for them to change their mind.

The opening of the judicial year will be held for the first time at the presidential palace with the participation of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the heads of supreme justice bodies, Prime Minister Yıldırım, Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ and Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar and representatives from different justice organizations. 

The ceremonies of the judicial year in the past were held at the premises of the Supreme Court of Appeals and political party leaders were not allowed to deliver statements at the event.

But this year’s decision to hold it at the presidential palace and Erdoğan’s expected address to the participants drew reactions from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the TBB, who are among invitees of the ceremonies.

“Our chairman will not participate in the ceremony,” CHP spokeswoman Selin Sayek Böke told reporters on Aug. 31 after a party meeting. 

CHP head Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu and TTB head Metin Feyzioğlu had already announced that they would not be present at the event, on the grounds that holding the event at the presidential palace would undermine judicial independence. The two met in a bilateral meeting on Aug. 31 in order to discuss the issue.

PM called on both to change mind

The announcement that neither of them would join the event came hours after Yıldırım repeated his calls for them participate on Aug. 31. 

He also attempted to dismiss Kılıçdaroğlu’s and Feyzioğlu’s concerns by recalling that all senior judiciary personnel were being appointed by the president and saying it was “natural” for Erdoğan to host such a ceremony where the principle of the rule of law is highlighted. 

“The presidential palace belongs to the people. It’s only natural that the issues of the people will be discussed there,” Yıldırım said, adding that holding the event at the palace instead of a hotel showed the “greatness” of the Turkish state. 

“The leader of the Nationalist Movement Party [Devlet Bahçeli] has declared that he will attend the ceremony and has also called on Mr. Kılıçdaroğlu to be present as well,” he said. 

“Both Mr. Kılıçdaroğlu and Mr. Feyzioğlu have visited the palace before. What has changed now so they will not join the meeting? I have difficulty understanding this,” he added.