EU Commissioner Füle’s two letters key in suspension of judicial bill
Ömer Şahin ANKARA - Radikal
Two letters from EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Füle ahead of Prime Minister Erdoğan's talks with top EU officials have played an instrumental role in suspending part of a contentious judicial bill, Radikal revealed on Jan 25.Brussels has played a key role in freezing parts of a controversial bill reshaping a key judicial body bill, as EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Füle sent a letter to Ankara on Jan. 24 requesting more time and dialogue before the enactment of the draft bill, daily Radikal revealed.
Füle sent a first letter on Jan. 14 to EU Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, who last month replaced Egemen Bağış after the latter was implicated in the damaging graft probe. In the missive, Füle said the reform would have a negative impact on “the independence and neutrality of the judiciary and the separation of powers.”
In a second letter dated Jan. 20, the same day Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan traveled to Brussels to meet with top EU officials, Füle listed 12 points of criticisms and concerns regarding the bill reshaping the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK), according to the report.
He particularly indicated that the increase of powers in the hands of the justice minister would undermine EU legislation. “I am still of the opinion that [the bill] allows the justice minister to almost control the HSYK. Therefore, this causes serious concerns regarding the independence and neutrality of the judiciary and the separation of powers in Turkey,” Füle said.
Füle reiterated demands he previously conveyed via public statements to consult Brussels before giving the draft its definitive form. “Before decisions are made and the law is approved, Turkish society needs more time and more comprehension and dialogue,” Füle’s letter said.
Füle conveyed the EU’s request for a wider discussion regarding the Dec. 17, 2013, graft probe, including the relocations that hit the Police Department, calling for more transparency.
“This draft bill is only one aspect of our current agenda. There are many developments such as the relocations of police officers and the carrying out of graft probes that we should discuss and exchange opinions on,” the letter said.
A day after the second letter was sent, Erdoğan gave “reassurances” to EU President Herman van Rompuy and European Commission head Jose Manuel Barroso over the government’s handling of the graft probe and the judicial bill.
Erdoğan announced on Jan. 24 that parts of the bill would be frozen, but not withdrawn, and could be submitted to the Parliament once again “if necessary.”
After his return, Erdoğan told reporters that he hoped he had convinced EU leaders about the ruling AKP’s position that the probes were the result of a “parallel state.”