Citing freedom of expression, top court gives green light to speech by head of bar associations
Metin Feyzioğlu, the head of the Union of Turkey’s Bar Associations (TBB), has defied PM Erdoğan by saying he will attend the ceremony to mark the new legal year. AA PhotoTurkey’s top court has decided to include the head of the Union of Turkey’s Bar Associations (TBB) as a speaker at the ceremony marking the commencement of the new legislative year for 2014-2015 on Sept. 1, in defiance of President-elect Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
“As a result of the meeting, it was decided that an ongoing practice of addressing the defense, which is one of the constituents of the judiciary at the judicial year ceremonies, will continue,” said the Council of Presidents of the Supreme Court of Appeals, in a written statement released after a meeting on Aug. 25.
The decision was reached by a majority of votes during the meeting. The need to hold such a meeting and to review the already planned flow of the ceremony emerged following Erdoğan’s remarks on Aug. 14.
In response to a question on whether he would attend the ceremony for the commencement of the legislative year, Erdoğan said he did "not want to face a similar incident as the one that took place in May, when he took exception to the comments delivered by Feyzioğlu.
“I will not attend if the Supreme Court of Appeals invites the bar president [Metin Feyzioğlu] and has him deliver a speech. The president does not have to listen to the bar president there. From now on, these kinds of things should be reformed,” Erdoğan said.
If a custom is needed, then it must be the president who delivers a speech at these meetings, he added.
However, the statement from the Council of Presidents indicated their willingness to continue with traditional customs, which they called an “ongoing practice.”
The incident to which Erdoğan referred to as an “unfortunate experience” took place on May 10, when Feyzioğlu delivered a one-hour-long speech criticizing the government at a ceremony marking the Council of State’s 146th anniversary. Turkish politics witnessed a first when Erdoğan interrupted Feyzioğlu’s speech, standing up and heckling the TBB head before walking out of the ceremony. He then accused Feyzioğlu of "distorting reality" and being "rude and disrespectful to state protocol."
Feyzioğlu, speaking in an interview with daily Hürriyet before the top court announced its decision, defied Erdoğan by saying he will attend the ceremony to mark the new legislative year.
When asked about the length of his speech this time around, Feyzioğlu said it would be “30 minutes” long, adding that he did "not have a single regret" over the length of his last speech in May, which lasted approximately 51 minutes.