What is Gül’s plan?
President Abdullah Gül thinks there are aspects contrary to the Constitution and to the principle of the separation of powers in a bill submitted by the government to Parliament about the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK).
He has legal opinions and official reports submitted to him. With his subtle style, he stated during a meeting with the Slovenian president that he has warned the prime minister on this matter.
Gül, who thinks that a formula in which parties agree on what would be more balanced and democratic, brought up that the HSYK arrangement should be done with a Constitutional amendment during meetings with political leaders. Thus, the matter would be dependent on the consensus of the parties.
Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu told Gül he was open to this formula. So was Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) co-leader Selahattin Demirtaş.
Upon this, Gül met Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. He explained the inconveniences of the HSYK bill and that it needed to be solved at the constitutional level based on a consensus with the parties; the PM accepted this. The talks started like this.
Now, the issue is what kind of a constitutional formula will come out. What the ruling party has proposed, the Supreme Board of Radio and Television (RTÜK) model, is contrary to both the Constitution and the principle of separation of powers. Well, then, what kind of a formula should it be?
This is what Gül said: “A HSYK with strong independence and impartiality but again standing within the framework of the principles of the European Union.”
Indeed, these are the correct principles for the HSYK. The RTÜK model proposed by the PM has nothing to do with these principles.
The government and the main opposition should reach a consensus on a HSYK model where the Parliament is represented at a limited extent and elected members from the judiciary will make up the significant majority.
The president thinks Turkey’s international image has gone through some tremors in the past few years, and he takes the criticisms coming from the EU seriously. He rightfully said that if the government and the main opposition reach a consensus on the HSYK matter, “Not only will this problem be solved but also a very positive psychology will be created all over Turkey, and we will be able to show that everything can be solved within the democratic system both domestically and internationally.”
Will Gül use his veto?
What if there is no consensus on such a model and the government passes the bill through Parliament? This bill would destroy the institutional structure in the administration of justice.
It is not easy to endorse such a bill. Gül is trying to solve the issue while it is being debated in Parliament before it reaches that stage. He is trying to ensure a constitutional consensus on one hand, and on the other hand, he is meeting government officials to curb those aspects of the bill that are contrary to the separation of powers.
The HSYK does not resemble any other administrative institution because it is related to the judiciary. An incorrect arrangement would impact communal peace and Turkey’s reputation in the democratic world.
In his speech at the Ambassadors’ Conference the other day, Gül noted the significance of the years 2014 and 2015. With the exploitation of the incidents of a century ago, Turkey will be exposed to several international campaigns. In order to stand to this, Gül said, “Turkey should tidy up its own house” and “shine again.”
If Turkey does not “shine again” and, on the contrary, further ruins its image with the HSYK proposal, the serious consequences of this will cause major regrets in future years.
Not only the judiciary but Turkey itself needs a model which the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the main opposition CHP agree on.
Taha Akyol is a columnist for daily Hürriyet in which this piece was published on Jan 16. It was translated into English by the Daily News staff.