‘President Gül’s approval of HSYK law means farewell to rule of law’

Following President Abdullah Gül’s signing of a controversial legislation on the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) giving the government a greater grip over the judiciary, harsh reactions have come from both former ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) members and opposition parties in Parliament.

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Former AK Party deputy and Culture and Tourism Minister Ertuğrul Günay criticized Gül for approving the legislation, raising concerns over the separation of powers and the independence of the judiciary, saying Gül should have vetoed the bill.

“The problem is extremely serious and should be addressed seriously. I feel sad that Gül has signed the bill into legislation. Mr. President is the highest authority to supervise the constitutionality of laws and ensure that their implementation is in accordance with the Constitution. Despite the fact that Gül had concerns with the HSYK bill, turning a blind eye to society’s concerns through his signature for sake of having better relations with the AK Party government and looking to the Constitutional Court for a solution to the issue is not the right approach. That is why I am concerned. He should have sent the law back to Parliament instead of approving it,” he said.

MHP’s Oktay Vural: Gül contradicted previous statements

Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Deputy Chairman Oktay Vural also criticized Gül for signing the legislation restructuring the HSYK and bringing an end to the separation of powers in Turkey, which is protected by the Constitution, emphasizing that Gül has contradicted himself after his previous statements saying the bill is unconstitutional.

Slamming Gül for signing the HSYK legislation, Vural said: “President Gül, in his earlier statements, had pointed out that no changes to the top judicial body were necessary because Turkey had brought its legal system in line with the EU’s with the 2010 constitutional reform. He previously called the legislation unconstitutional. Since Gül adopted a contradictory approach by later approving the law, Mr. President should then resign due to his conflicting stance. Gül announced that he gave the Constitutional Court a mandate instead of using his authority to veto the HSYK law. He should then resign and be the Constitutional Court president. By not vetoing the bill, Gül has dealt the judiciary a blow.”

Continuing with his criticism of Gül’s approval of the legislation, Vural said, “Those who were elected via our nation’s will have not refrained from dealing a blow to the rule of law and the state’s laws,” added.

After Gül approved the controversial law, Peter Stano, the spokesperson for EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Füle, said the European Commission’s concerns regarding an Internet law and the legislation on the HSYK are well-known. “We are going to examine in detail the latest version of these laws — including any new amendments — and share our comments with the Turkish authorities. Our assessment will also be reflected in the forthcoming progress report after summer,” Stano told Today’s Zaman.

Another reaction to the signing of the controversial bill came from MHP deputy Özcan Yeniçeri, who said Gül did not use his authority for the benefit of democracy and freedom, as the recent signature on the disputed legislation shows.

When asked about Gül’s approval of the law giving the government more control over the judiciary, Yeniçeri said: “Mr. President did not uphold the state of law principles nor did he use his authority to defend the Constitution in an effort to avoid a possible conflict with the government and signed the legislation into law. If he transferred his authority to the Constitutional Court by approving the law on the HSYK, then he should apply to the Constitutional Court. He still acts like a member of the AK Party instead of the president of the Turkish Republic. Through this stance, he avoided exercising his duty.”

Grand Union Party (BBP) leader Mustafa Destici also lashed out at Gül, saying the president has turned out to be part of the orchestra who dealt a blow to judicial independence by approving the HSYK legislation, adding that Gül ignored the national will through such a disputed approval. “People are now looking towards the Constitutional Court to cancel the approval as a last hope.”

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