Venice Commission report on Turkey is biased: Justice Minister Bozdağ

Venice Commission report on Turkey is biased: Justice Minister Bozdağ

Venice Commission report on Turkey is biased: Justice Minister Bozdağ Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ has accused the Venice Commission of being a “mouthpiece of Turkey’s opposition,” criticizing the timing and wording of its new report on the government-supported constitutional amendment to shift Turkey to an executive presidential system. 

“The sole purpose of publishing the report is for the Venice Commission to become a party to the ongoing referendum process on behalf of the Council of Europe. The commission is saying ‘I’m a party [to the constitution]’ and trying to tell the Turkish nation to say ‘no,’” Bozdağ said on March 13.

He also criticized the Commission for publishing the report after parliamentary debates on the constitutional amendments were completed. 

Bozdağ’s comments came after the Venice Commission, an advisory body of the Council of Europe composed of independent constitutional law experts, published its opinion on the constitutional amendments on which Turkey will hold a referendum on April 16, following a request by the Monitoring Committee of the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly. 

The draft opinion released on March 10 read that “the commission warns against a ‘one-person regime’ in Turkey.”

“The Commission notes that by removing necessary checks and balances, the amendments would not follow the model of a democratic presidential system based on the separation of powers, and instead would risk degeneration into an authoritarian presidential system,” the opinion read.

“The current state of emergency does not provide the proper democratic setting for a vote as important as a constitutional referendum, the experts concluded,” it added.

Justice Minister Bozdağ slammed the report, arguing that issuing it during the referendum process indicated “political innuendo.”

“A report to be published at this moment has no effect on Turkey’s constitutional amendment process. Our parliament no longer has a chance to intervene the process. They have only one option to intervene, and that is the voting process. So with this report, the Venice Commission has officially taken part in the Yes/No process on the side of ‘no,’” he said.  

Bozdağ also claimed that the report was written as a result of “political discourse” used by the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and Kurdish issue-focused Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) lawmakers in the parliamentary discussion process. 

“The Venice Commission should not use such political discourse. Are you the deputy group spokesperson of the CHP, submitting a report to the Venice Commission on behalf of the CHP? Are you presenting a report to the European Council on the constitutional amendment process like a CHP spokesperson?” he said.