Turkish president signals veto on government-led judicial bill

Turkish president signals veto on government-led judicial bill

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Turkish president signals veto on government-led judicial bill

Turkish President Abdullah Gül has received his Slovenian counterpart Barut Pahor at the Çankaya Presidential Palace in Ankara, Jan. 15.

President Abdullah Gül has indicated that he could veto draft legislation that would tighten the ruling party’s grip on the judiciary unless his recommendations to change certain articles in the draft are heeded.

The president also urged all political parties to overcome the ongoing problem with a constitutional amendment “that will not harm Turkey.” 

“There is a need to see that the existing legal and democratic system in Turkey is strong, but that there is always need for further enhancement, certainly. Now, within this framework, there is of course the principle of the separation of powers in Turkey. The fields of the executive, legislative and judiciary [branches] are separate from each other. But their functioning in harmony is a need for the state system,” Gül said Jan. 15 in response to questions at a joint press conference following talks with visiting Slovenian President Barut Pahor.

He was responding to a question about his prospective response if he cannot achieve his desired result after meeting with both the government and the opposition parties and if the draft is adopted in its current form and sent to him for approval in its current form. 

The president appeared intent on speaking positively about a possible resolution to the ongoing judicial crisis, saying such problems could be solved through dialogue and consultation. 

“I hope that this is resolved fundamentally. I believe that [solving] this through a constitutional amendment is more appropriate. And I would like the constitutional amendment to be within the framework of [practices in] developed democracies and the EU criteria, and current endeavors are to this effect,” said the president, a former foreign minister who played a central role in arriving at the EU declaration in December 2004 for the start of accession negotiations with Turkey in October 2005.

“If all of these do not happen… Of course, I shared my view with the government and Mr. Prime Minister about this draft and that that some changes shall be done. Let’s see, we will see how the process will happen,” Gül said.

Gül has personally intervened to try to end the latest crisis that stemmed from draft legislation to tighten the ruling party’s grip on the judiciary. He met with opposition leaders Jan. 13 before meeting Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who later announced that the draft could be “frozen” if the parties agreed on a charter amendment.

Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ and ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) Deputy Chair Nurettin Canikli submitted the offer to the opposition parties Jan. 14. While the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) agreed to consider the proposition, it was rejected by Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) representatives.

“If we can get a result on this issue, this will not only solve the problem but also create a very positive atmosphere, and we can prove that problems can be solved within the democratic system,” Gül also said Jan. 15.

In Istanbul, meanwhile, CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu ruled out an idea floated by Erdoğan concerning the restructuring of the Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK).

“There shall not be a party rosette behind a judge. This is not right,” Kılıçdaroğlu said, in response to Erdoğan’s suggestion that “Exactly like in the case with the RTÜK [the Radio and Television Supreme Council], the groups at the Parliament will find [places] on the HSYK according to [the numbers in Parliament].”

RTÜK has nine members elected by Parliament for a period of six years from a pool of candidates nominated by political parties, in proportion to the number of seats they hold in the legislature.

Replacements at HSYK

Bozdağ, meanwhile, chaired a meeting of the HSYK, the composition and authorities of which are at the center of grave political turmoil.

Bozdağ, who took office as part of an extensive Cabinet reshuffle on Dec. 25, 2013, following the launch of an extensive graft probe involving Erdoğan’s allies eight days earlier, and Justice Ministry Undersecretary Kenan İpek, who was appointed to his current post on Dec. 31, 2013, attended the HSYK meeting for the first time.

According to the decisions made at the meeting, replacements were made in the 1st Chamber of the HSYK.