Turkish PM hints at pact on judicial changes

Erdogan said the government would hold up its offer to restructure HSYK if oppositon wants to collaborate on a constitutional change.

Turkish PM hints at pact on judicial changes

World Bulletin / News Desk

Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan offered on Tuesday to work with opposition parties on restructuring top institution that administers the judiciary.

The proposal by his ruling AK Party - currently being discussed in a parliamentary commission - to restructure HSYK (the supreme board of judges and prosecutors) and transfer some of its powers to Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag has been criticised by opposition parties.

"We will freeze the proposal if the opposition says 'let's make this constitutional amendment together," Erdogan said in his party's caucus Tuesday. "But today's meetings are crucial."

Bozdag met main opposition CHP's leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu early in the day. A senior CHP leader said Erdogan's offer would be presented to Kilicdaroglu and debated in CHP's central board.

President Abdullah Gul has sought to calm the tension by holding talks with Erdogan and opposition leaders.

"The issue is not one of separation of powers or judicial independence. It is about the judiciary losing its impartiality for being under the control of an organization," Erdogan said.

The government asserts the judiciary is under the influence of an illegal formation which it calls a "parallel state."

Compares 'parallel state' to Assassins

Erdogan has compared the ‘parallel state’ operating within Turkey to the notorious Assassins (Hashhashids) who worked undercover to bring down the Great Seljuk Empire.

The Turkish PM had previously claimed that a ‘parallel state’ that is operating in Turkey was behind the December 17 raids that saw the arrest of a number of businessmen, bureaucrats and former ministers’ sons as an attempt to smear the ruling AK Party’s image ahead of local elections in March.

Speaking at the AK Party group meeting on Tuesday, Erdogan said ‘We have seen in the past how the secret Assassins group tried to imprison the Seljuk Empire,’ referring to the police raid on the Turkish charity IHH’s office in Kilis this morning.

IHH, a charity well-known for sending the Mai Marmara aid flotilla to break the Israeli naval blockade on Gaza in May 2010, had been expecting to be the target of an operation ever since the anti-graft case started on December 17. Two weeks ago, they were embroiled in a scandal after media sources suggested they were delivering weapons to Syria. These claims were later proved false.

Following the December 17 raids, another operation was blocked after Turkish police in Istanbul and the Gendarme refused to carry out an order by prosecutor Muammer Akkas. Since then, Erdogan has reshuffled the cabinet and sacked hundreds of officials in the police force in what many consider to be an attempt to counter a ‘post-modern coup’.

The AK Party government has also called to reform the judiciary, stirring a major debate between the government and the opposition. However, Erdogan today insisted that he was open for compromise over suggested reforms, saying that he was willing to accept a set-up similar to that of the state Radio and Television Board.

Erdogan said the graft probe launched on December 17 was an "intense smear campaign and disinformation" targeting the Turkish government both at home and abroad.

Erdogan stated the probe was an "act of revenge" for the Turkish government's "firm stance" in Egypt, "principled foreign policy" in Iran and Iraq, "humanitarian concerns" in Syria, and "conscientious rejection" in Palestine.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 14 Ocak 2014, 15:05