Saturday, October 25, 2008

Court Announces Reasoning Behind Closure Decision

A weid, and ultimately bizarre ruling from the Constitutional Court, which issued its reasoning for its decision in the AKP closure case last summer. From TDZ:
The Constitutional Court explained late Thursday in a reasoned opinion that it had fined the governing Justice and Development Party (AK Party) for undermining Turkey's secular principles instead of shutting it down because of the party's efforts to gain Turkey membership in the European Union and to improve women's rights.

The court imposed financial penalties on the party in July for eroding secularism but dismissed the state prosecutor's case to shut down the party and ban Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and other leading party members from political activity for the next five years.

Nihat Ergün, chairman of the AK Party's parliamentary group, said Friday that the opinion confirmed the AK Party's success in pushing democratization and the EU process.

"The reasoned opinion has two aspects," Ergün said. "One emphasizes that secularism is important, and it's a warning to pay attention to sensitivities about secularism. The other aspect says the government is not aiming to erode secularism. It confirms that the government is democratizing Turkey. These two aspects should be evaluated together."

Ergün also noted that the Constitutional Court had dismissed 370 pieces of the evidence against the AK Party, highlighting that only 30 statements and acts by AK Party officials were found to be anti-secular. But he said his party attached importance to the court's finding that some words and actions were against secularism.

He stressed that the court had reviewed evidence in favor of the AK Party, establishing that the government had moved forward Turkey's EU membership process, carried out political and legal reform, removed obstacles to democracy and freedoms, introduced affirmative action for women, increased human rights standards and expanded press freedoms.
Of course, remember that the Constitutional Court has been anything but generally cooperative in terms of complying with decisions issued by the European Court of Human Rights, and that its finding in the türban case is a huge stumbling block to any serious reform of the consitution, causing some to question if the Court even thinks it is possible to legally draft a new constitution in peace time.

Of further interest will of course be the impact this has on the domestic politics of accession since it seems to imply a strong endorsement of the accession process by the Court, and will surely place pressure on AKP to push for more reforms so as to further prove its credentials.

For coverage from TDN, click here.

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