President Erdoğan slams Turkey bar head over ‘No’ campaign
ANKARAPresident Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has harshly criticized Turkey’s Union of Bar Associations President Metin Feyzioğlu for conducting a referendum campaign abroad and taking a stance against the constitutional changes.
“You cannot knock on my door anymore. I have closed it, because you are the head of a union, the president of an institution that claims to know what law is. You cannot do this. You are not a politician,” Erdoğan said in a televised interview with private broadcaster ATV on March 13.
Criticizing Feyzioğlu for conducting a referendum campaign abroad by delivering speeches against the constitutional amendments, Erdoğan accused the bar head of breaching his duties.
“The ones who are not allowing my minister to give a speech are allowing the president of the Union of Turkish Bar Associations to go and conduct a campaign there. He started in Turkey and toured around Europe. He is supposed to be a law professional,” Erdoğan said, referring to the crisis between Turkey and the Netherlands after the latter banned Turkish ministers from meeting Turks living there.
“At the moment he did this, but there are going to be consequences. As a matter of fact, many Bar Associations are in an uproar, claiming that the Union of Bar Associations of Turkey does not represent them anymore,” he added.
“They [Feyzioğlu] are in contact with those who are affiliated to terrorist organizations, having their visits along with lawmakers from the CHP [main opposition Republican People’s Party] and the HDP [Peoples’ Democratic Party]. This is what they are standing on,” he said.
‘I am doing my job’: Feyzioğlu
Feyzioğlu responded to Erdoğan’s harsh words, saying the Union of the Bar Associations and the provincial bar associations are obligated to explain the constitutional amendment package and its contents in accordance with the law.
“Which trade body, which association, which union should undertake the responsibility of informing our nation on the constitutional amendments besides us? To carry out informing is a duty of all people living in this country, all the unions and NGOs. However, everybody who listens to their conscience knows that it is primarily a duty of the Union of Bar Associations,” Feyzioğlu said at a press conference on March 14.
Condemning the ban on Turkish ministers by European countries, Feyzioğlu said his only visit to Europe had happened before the diplomatic crisis with Netherlands and Germany erupted.
“Mr. President has accused us of touring Europe to talk about the constitution. The only date that we have been abroad for this purpose for a few hours was on Feb. 18. In other words, long before the crisis with Netherlands and Germany happened,” he said.