President Erdoğan, PM Davutoğlu to be absent at opening of judicial year in act of protest

President Erdoğan, PM Davutoğlu to be absent at opening of judicial year in act of protest

President Erdoğan, PM Davutoğlu to be absent at opening of judicial year in act of protest

Constitutional Court head Haşim Kılıç (L), Supreme Court of Appeals head Ali Alkan (2 L) are seen during President Erdoğan’s oath.

The opening of the judicial year on Sept. 1 will be carried out in the absence of top state and government officials, who are protesting the inclusion of the head of the Union of Bar Associations (TBB) as a speaker at the ceremony.

After President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ have now announced they too will not be present at the ceremony, citing the Cabinet meeting coinciding with the ceremony. Chief of General Staff Gen. Necdet Özel has also followed the political leaders in not joining the opening ceremony.

The judicial year opening ceremonies used to bring the country’s president, head of Cabinet, and justice minister together with the top justice officials as the guests of the head of the Supreme Court of Appeals.

Change of a tradition

Apart from the opening ceremony of the judicial year, the anniversaries of the foundation of top supreme justice councils also brought top officials together. However, an incident that took place in June at the anniversary of the Council of State is likely to change this tradition from now on.

The incident to which Erdoğan referred to as an “unfortunate experience” took place May 10, when TBB head Metin 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 him before walking out of the ceremony. He then accused Feyzioğlu of “distorting reality” and being “rude and disrespectful to state protocol.”

Erdoğan vowed not to attend any future meetings in the event that Feyzioğlu is included as a speaker. Despite Erdoğan’s urging, the Supreme Court of Appeals decided to include Feyzioğlu on the list of speakers at the Sept. 1 event. 

“It has been 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.

After his election as president, Ali Alkan, the head of the top court, visited Erdoğan to celebrate his new position and also to invite him to the opening. But Erdoğan rejected the invitation saying he will depart to northern Cyprus on the same day. Alkan also visited Davutoğlu after the formation of the government, but he received a negative answer from the prime minister, who said he would be convening the first Cabinet meeting at around the same time.