Turkey’s president took the initiative Jan. 13 to help resolve the country’s row over the judiciary stemming from a damaging corruption scandal, extending separate invitations to the leaders of three opposition parties represented in Parliament.
President Abdullah Gül also received Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan following his meetings with the three opposition leaders.
The first leader who visited the Çankaya Presidential Palace later in the same day was main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu.
“We want to prevent political interventions into the judiciary. We want the judiciary to be independent. We want a judiciary which is in its own command,” Kılıçdaroğlu told reporters following his 45-minute meeting with Gül.
Later in the day, Gül was scheduled to respectively hold separate meetings with Nationalist Movement Party leader Devlet Bahçeli and Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) co-leader Selahattin Demirtaş.
The only party that was not invited, despite being represented in Parliament, was the four-seated People’s Democratic Party (HDP), which is a sister party of the BDP.
Three days before the invitations were extended to Kılıçdaroğlu, Bahçeli and Demirtaş, Gül held meetings with Deputy Prime Minister Beşir Atalay and Interior Minister Efkan Ala. Afterwards, he gathered with Parliamentary Speaker Cemil Çiçek. As a former justice minister who has remained in touch with high judicial figures, Çiçek conveyed those individuals’ views on the issue during the almost-one-hour-long meeting, private CNNTürk television channel reported.
On Jan. 9, the president also held a meeting with Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ.
Meanwhile, Çiçek has assigned experts in Parliament to review whether or not a ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) bill to tighten Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s grip on the judiciary is constitutional. Discussion on the bill began Jan. 10 at Parliament’s Justice Commission.
Meanwhile, legal experts at the Presidency have drafted a preliminary report on the bill concerning the Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) and presented it to Gül, CNNTürk also reported.
Article on ‘harmonious functioning of state organs’
Before meeting with Gül in the afternoon, Kılıçdaroğlu gathered with prominent legal experts and academics as well as Ankara bureau chiefs of media outlets in the morning.
Delivering remarks on the controversy and Gül’s invitation, Kılıçdaroğlu indicated that Gül’s initiative was a belated one.
“Among the president’s duties, there is [the requirement] to ensure the harmonious functioning of the state institutions. At the moment, there is a conflict between the institutions of the state. The president should have something to say about this,” Kılıçdaroğlu told reporters, noting that he would convey the CHP’s concerns over the draft bill aimed at reshaping the HSYK to Gül.
The main opposition leader was referring to Article 104 of the Constitution which outlines the duties and powers of the president. The article states that the president “shall ensure the implementation of the Constitution, and the regular and harmonious functioning of the organs of state.”
Among the duties and powers relating to executive functions, the Constitution lists “presiding over the Council of Ministers or calling the Council of Ministers to meet under his or her chairmanship whenever he or she deems it necessary.”
BDP: Correct step
Responding to questions from reporters after attending a trial where 46 people including journalists were being tried for alleged links with the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK), the alleged urban wing of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Demirtaş said he would meet with Gül at 6 p.m. at the Çankaya Presidential Palace.
“It has been a right step. It is important that Mr. President is taking opinions of the Parliament, the opposition on this issue,” Demirtaş said in Istanbul, noting that he would convey his party’s view on the latest turmoil over the judiciary’s role to Gül.
“I hope that the initiative that Mr. President has taken will be of use for the establishment of a fair judicial system. We have both criticism and proposals regarding the HSYK arrangement; we will share these.”