Europe 'shocked' over attempt to ban AK Party

Some EU members called for comment had a hard time believing in the authenticity of the news which, a lawsuit opened by the Supreme Court of Appeals chief prosecutor to ban the governing Justice and Development Party (AK Party).

Europe 'shocked' over attempt to ban AK Party
A lawsuit opened by the Supreme Court of Appeals chief prosecutor to ban the governing Justice and Development Party (AK Party) has sent shockwaves across the European Union.

Though the European Commission was slow to react to the news in a bid to gather as much information as possible, members of the European Parliament closely following Turkey were completely shocked to learn that a fresh case had been opened against the AK Party, which is seen as one of the most reformist governments in Turkish republican history. "Unbelievable," "absolutely crazy" and "ridiculous" were some of words used by MEPs while reacting to the news. Some members called by Sunday's Zaman for comment had a hard time believing in the authenticity of the news.

Sources in Brussels agreed that the case opened by Chief Prosecutor Abdurrahman Yalçınkaya would initially be received very poorly by the European Union and that the reaction would become more concrete as the trial continued. The EU's level of reaction will depend largely on how the Constitutional Court deals with the case; the hope in Brussels is that the court will dismiss the case immediately.

It is extremely difficult to ban political parties in Europe, and attempts to shut down parties are regarded as incompatible with liberal democracies. When political parties appealed to Germany's Supreme Court to ban the Nazi Party, their request was turned down on grounds that the allegations were not sufficiently sound. A similar move in Belgium to ban the openly racist Vlaams Belang (The Benefit of the Flemish People) Party was rejected by the country's highest court.

European Parliament's rapporteur on Turkey Ria Oomen-Ruijten, whose report was published only several days ago, had some difficulty in believing the news that a lawsuit had been filed at the Constitutional Court to close down the AK Party. "This is absolutely crazy. I have never, ever, seen in my life a prosecutor using legal tools for political purposes. I do not believe at all that the AK Party has been the center of anti-secular activities. There are even people saying that the AK Party is defending secularism in Turkey," Oomen-Ruijten said, arguing that prosecutors made fools of themselves with such cases. In her newly published report on Turkey Oomen-Ruijten had noted:

"Notes the progress made as regards the efficiency of the judiciary; welcomes the Turkish government's plan to implement a reform strategy designed to strengthen the independence and impartiality of the judiciary and to increase the confidence enjoyed by the judiciary amongst the public; is of the view that this strategy should, as a priority, ensure that interpretation of legislation related to human rights and fundamental freedoms is in line with ECHR standards; notes with concern that, in 2007, the European Court of Human Rights handed down more judgments against Turkey for violations of the ECHR than against any other country."

She said the case against the AK Party demonstrated clearly the urgent need to radically reform the nation's judiciary.

Dutch MEP of Turkish descent Emine Bozkurt said the case against the AK Party -- which was put into power by a wide voter margin just six months ago -- was quite odd. "It is not democratic at all to close down political parties that have different views [in an effort] to sort out Turkey's problems," she said.


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Last Mod: 16 Mart 2008, 11:27
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