Turkey’s main opposition urges EU to open chapters on judiciary

Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has urged theEuropean Union to open new accession chapters with Turkey regarding the judiciary. 

“The 23rd and 24th chapters on the judiciary should be opened as soon as possible. The continuation of negotiations would have a positive effect on democratization in Turkey,” Kılıçdaroğlu said in the meeting with Danish Ambassador to Turkey Svend Olling at the CHP headquarters in Ankara on May 16. 

He particularly noted that members of the Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSK) are currently being voted on and that the judiciary is “being restructured,” further threatening the independence of the judiciary.

“That is why it would be beneficial to open chapters on the judiciary, especially in this period,” Kılıçdaroğlu stated. 

In response, Olling said he found recent statements from both Ankara and Brussels as “provocative,” stressing the need for calm.

“There are problems experienced in the relationship between the EU and Turkey. Turkey has advanced in its EU negotiations to a certain point, but a belief that accession talks cannot be continued with Turkey under the current circumstances has formed in the EU,” he told Kılıçdaroğlu. 

“A calm approach would benefit both Turkey and Europe. Tension needs to be reduced as soon as possible,” the CHP head said in reply.

‘Collapsed state structure’

Meanwhile, speaking at the parliamentary group meeting of his party, Kılıçdaroğlu said Turkey faces major problems in terms of the “separation of powers, social consolidation, justice and its democratic position.”

 

“When [Erdoğan] formally becomes the leader of the [ruling Justice and Development Party] AKP again, the fracture between society and the president will further reveal itself,” he added.
 
“An impartial president would represent all citizens. But now he will only represent those who have voted for him. That’s why there is a serious division,” Kılıçdaroğlu said. 

He reiterated the CHP’s objection to the constitutional amendment passed in last month’s referendum, describing it as a “historic break that will lead to a catastrophe.” 

Imprisonment of Cumhuriyet journalist

Kılıçdaroğlu also criticized the imprisonment of daily Cumhuriyet journalist Oğuz Güven, who was taken into custody on May 12 over a controversial Twitter post by the newspaper on a news report covering the death of Chief Public Prosecutor Mustafa Alper.  

“There must be some conscience and morality. What kind of judge are you? What kind of prosecutor are you? Don’t you know how to resist?” he said, referring to the judges who ordered Güven’s pre-trial detention. 

“Oğuz Güven went to prison smiling. Because he knows that there is no difference between being outside and being inside. They have already transformed Turkey into a semi-open prison,” Kılıçdaroğlu added. 

Güven was Cumhuriyet’s chief internet editor and the controversial tweet was deleted from the official account minutes after it was posted. 

Two educators on hunger strike

The CHP head also referred to the condition of two dismissed educators, Nuriye Gülmen and Semih Özakça, who have been on hunger strike for 68 days demanding to be reinstated to their jobs. Kılıçdaroğlu urged Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım to meet with their families. 

“I am here imploring Mr. Binali Yıldırım: Mr. Yıldırım, you are the prime minister, do not let those two young people die. Welcome the families and talk to them and listen to what they are demanding,” he said.
He also addressed Gülmen and Özakça, asking them to stop their hunger strike. 

“I am here addressing my brother and sister: Please give up your hunger strike. I will voice your demands and problems wherever you are. But please give it up,” he said.

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