Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan committed his government to make judicial reforms, in comments made at the opening ceremony of the judicial year held at the Presidential Palace on Sept. 2.
“We have signed historical reforms that will improve the justice system in every field. Today we are in preparation for new reforms to strengthen democracy. We are preparing a comprehensive human rights action plan. We are committed to ensuring a simple and effective operation in civil proceedings,” Erdoğan said in the keynote address at the ceremony.
Citing a strategic judicial reform plan unveiled last May, Erdoğan said Turkey showed a commitment to its obligations for full European Union membership with this document while the EU bodies “are in an obviously discriminatory attitude towards Turkey.”
The president also vowed to implement judicial reform measures in a short time by simplifying judicial processes and developing alternative solutions for disputes.
Turkey is on course to implement the Judicial Reform Strategy Document, a plan released on May 30 to improve the working of the nation’s judiciary.
“Independent functioning of legislative, executive and judiciary powers does not prevent them from liaising with the president’s mission in the [Turkish] Constitution as head of state” Erdoğan also stated. “We see this approach as a unifying force, not a threat to the separation of powers,” he added.
The “accusations” expressed against the president regarding the separation of powers are “unfounded,” he said.
With the latest constitutional amendment, the concept of judicial independence has been arbitrated with the principle of impartiality of the judiciary, he noted.
Turkey has always abided by “the principle of separation of powers,” the president said.
“The principle of separation of powers is the basis of democracy and the republic. The elected vice-president in the United States is also the president of Congress. In the United States, this situation is not understood as contrary to the principle of separation of powers,” Erdoğan stated.
He recalled that one of the latest and most striking examples in this context is now playing out in the United Kingdom.
“The queen suspended the parliament for a month on the prime minister’s proposal to ensure the popular vote of the people. The British democracy interpreted the principle of separation of powers in this way and went on the path of opening the clogged system,” Erdoğan stated.
Turkey remained loyal to the understanding of democracy, which is built on the will of the people although it had many troubles such as a coup d’état and tutelage, he said.
A number of bar associations “provoked” the opening of the judicial year just because of its location, the president said.
He was referring to a boycott of the ceremony by some bar association unions. Boycott participants said they objected to the ceremony being held at the Presidential Palace because, they claimed, the venue violates the separation of powers.
In a speech during the ceremony, Turkey’s Bar Association Chair Metin Feyzioğlu criticized those unions that refused to be at the ceremony and suggested their boycott was politically motivated. “Turkey Bar Association is not in opposition to any political party [and] is not a supporter,” Feyzioğlu said.