Adalaet Bakanı Sadullah Ergin´in Katılımıyla “Anayasa ve Referandum Tartışmaları"

Koordinatörlüğümüzün düzenlediği yabancı basını bilgilendirme toplantılarının üçüncüsü, Adalet Bakanı Sadullah Ergin´in katılımıyla Dolmabahçe Başbakanlık Çalışma Ofisinde gerçekleştirildi. 27 Haziran 2010 tarihinde düzenlenen yemekli toplantıda Ergin, basın mensuplarına Anayasa değişiklikleri ve referanduma ilişkin bilgiler verdi. Toplantıya Ria Novesti, Associated Press, The New York Times, Today’s Zaman, AD Nieuwsmedia, Nikkei, La Vanguardia, Le Soir, Hurriyet Daily News, Wochenzeitung, Wallstreet Journal, Reuters, Al Jazeera ve Anadolu Ajansının temsilcileri katıldı.

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Wall Street Journal
Constitutional Debate Looms in Turkey
Marc Champion

ISTANBUL—Turkey´s government sent a package of constitutional amendments for a vote in parliament Tuesday, but despite concessions to critics who called the proposals a bid to control the country´s judiciary, no opposition party has said it will vote for the package.

Analysts say the divide could set the scene for a constitutional showdown. A vote is expected next month, but without support from other parties, the government won´t be able to secure the 367 votes needed to approve the amendments. The government has said it would then put the changes to a referendum, likely held by July.

The opposition Republican People´s Party, or CHP, has warned that if that should happen, it would apply to the Constitutional Court to rule on the legality of the changes. At least one Constitutional Court judge already has said the amendments breach the separation of powers principle guaranteed in the constitution.

"It´s very important that these changes be made in the best way," said President Abdullah Gül, urging caution.

Tuesday´s proposals included several changes from the draft presented for consultation last week—primarily eliminating a proposal to include two ordinary citizens with no legal qualifications to the Constitutional Court, appointed by the president. Also new is language specifying that the Constitutional Court, acting as a Supreme Council, could try top judges, political leaders and commanders of the armed forces for any criminal charges against them.

Most Turks favor changing the 1982 constitution, which was drafted in the wake of a military coup. The European Union has long called for Turkey to draw up a new basic law more in line with the European democratic and human-rights norms. Turkey is negotiating to join the EU.

The proposed amendments include some improvements on issues such as equality and collective-bargaining rights for public servants. Individuals also would, for the first time, be able to petition directly the Constitutional Court before taking complaints to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France.

Much of the package, however, deals with issues that would change the political balance of power in Turkey and are therefore highly sensitive. These proposals include expanding the Constitutional Court to 17 from 11 members, and the powerful Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors to 21 members from seven. The president and parliament—both controlled by the ruling Justice and Development party, or AKP—would receive a significantly increased role in appointing members in judicial bodies that have often been hostile. The Constitutional Court failed by one vote to ban the AKP in 2007, and blocked legislation to end the wearing of headscarves in universities.

The AKP´s original proposals last week would have expanded the Constitutional Court to 19 members.

Other amendments would make it much more difficult for the courts to shut down political parties, requiring that a majority of parties in parliament agree. Legislators from parties that are banned would be able to keep their seats, and could re-form under a new name after three years. The current rules have been used to shut down parties on some 20 occasions, drawing criticism inside and outside Turkey.

Leaders of the AKP strongly resent presentation of the reforms as a battle between secularists and an "Islamic leaning" government. "The struggle is between those who want Turkey to be a bureaucratic republic [run by unelected bureaucrats], and those who want it to be a democratic republic," said Huseyin Celik, a prominent AKP legislator and former education minister, at a weekend event called to sell the changes to foreign journalists.

Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin produced a slide show at the same event, showing the proposed changes as being in line with the European practice for making top judicial appointments. Even with the amendments, Turkey´s politicians would have a smaller role in appointing judges to the top court than in some Western European countries, he said.

Still, adding new members to the Constitutional Court, and to the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors between now and elections due next year would give the AKP a strong role in reshaping the judiciary—the equivalent of appointing multiple new members of the U.S. Supreme Court overnight. It is a controversial move at a time when Turkey is deeply polarized.

Today´s Zaman
Recent attacks provocations of pro-status quo forces, says minister
E.Barış Altıntaş

The government’s constitutional amendment package which will go to a national vote on Sept. 12, is crucial for Turkey’s democratization and the country can no longer go on its way with its current Constitution, drafted by 1980 coup generals, Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin has said. The minister also tied the recent escalation in terrorist attacks to the resistance of what he called pro-status quo forces to change.

Speaking to representatives of foreign press agencies in Turkey in a bid to explain the government’s constitutional amendment package yesterday at the İstanbul office of the prime minister in Dolmabahçe Palace, Ergin said recent violence such as an armed attack on a police vehicle by terrorists on Monday were part of efforts to undermine the constitutional reform process.

He said Turkey needed the changes for a stronger and better democracy, adding that the package, which makes changes to the structure of the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) in two of its most contentious articles, will open the road for further judicial reforms also demanded by the European Union, which is negotiating with Turkey for full membership.

The justice minister responded to criticism from the opposition that the two articles making changes to the structure of the two higher judicial bodies was an attempt on the part of the government to take over the judiciary, saying the changes only brought these agencies closer to their European counterparts.

The amendment to the Constitutional Court brings the number of court members to 17 from 11. Three of the members will be appointed by Parliament if the package is passed in the referendum. The minister, in yesterday’s briefing to foreign journalists, cited the appointment methods in EU member countries, noting that in most of these countries, a majority of similar judicial bodies’ members were elected by the parliaments. He said the situation was similar in the case of HSYK, noting that currently the Justice Ministry is represented with only two members -- the minister and his undersecretary -- on the seven-seat HSYK.

“With the amendment, there will still be two members from the Justice Ministry whereas there will be 22 members total on the new HSYK,” he said.

He also said that the justice minister’s role is mostly symbolic and highly limited on the Council, as the minister does not attend meetings except in certain cases.

He also dismissed criticism from the opposition that the government had not sought consensus in drafting the package, showing his audience letters written from the government party to political parties offering to form a joint commission with equal representation from all political parties regardless of the seats they have in Parliament. He said the Republican People’s Party (CHP) had not even bothered to send a response rejecting the proposals.

In response to a question on the limitations of the package, Ergin said he agreed that more reforms were needed in the judiciary, from the establishment of appellate courts to alternative sentences to prison terms or fines and other mechanisms of mediation between conflicting sides in court cases. He said the government had a strategy for further judicial reform that has been approved by EU officials.

YÖK might also be abolished

Ergin said the changes would help limit arbitrariness in the higher judiciary, noting they also limit the sphere of influence of the military judiciary. The justice minister said the main problems with the judiciary and bureaucracy in Turkey stemmed from mechanisms that were installed in the system by the organizers of the 1980 coup d’état to suppress the will of the nation in other areas, in case the nation opted for the “wrong choice” at the ballot, saying such mechanisms and institutions had to be purged. The justice minister said it was highly possible that one such institution, the Higher Education Board (YÖK), founded after the 1980 coup to oversee the activities of Turkey’s universities, could be abolished in the future.

Most foreign correspondents here say they believe the package is not adequate but it is a “step in the right direction” toward democratization.

Representatives of various foreign news agencies including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Associated Press and RIA Novosti participated in the minister’s briefing yesterday.

Anka Haber Ajansı
“Gizli Eller" Wall Street Journal´da: Türkiye´de Kanıtlanması Mümkün Olmayan Komplo Teorileri Var

Hükümetin, Hatay ve İnegöl’deki olayların arkasında “demokratikleşmeye karşı güçler bulunduğu” yolundaki öngörüsü, ABD’nin en yüksek tirajlı gazetesi Wall Street Journal’de de konu edildi. WSJ´de son İnegöl ve Hatay olaylarını ele alan bir haberde "Türkiye İslami yöne dayanan hükümeti ve ülkeyi onyıllarca yönetmiş asker destekli laik kuruluşlar arasında bir güç çatışmasının ortasında. Her iki tarafta da birbirleriyle ilgili kanıtlanması mümkün olmayan bol miktarda komplo teorisi bulunuyor” denildi.

NEW YORK – The Wall Street Journal gazetesi başta hükümet yetkililerinin İnegöl ve Hatay’da Kürtlere karşı girişilen hareketlerin arkasında “derin devlet, gizli eller” gibi unsurların bulunduğuna yönelik iddialarını sütunlarına taşıdı. WSJ’de “Türkiye İslami yöne dayanan hükümeti ve ülkeyi onyıllarca yönetmiş asker destekli laik kuruluşlar arasında bir güç çatışmasının ortasında. Her iki tarafta da birbirleriyle ilgili kanıtlanması mümkün olmayan bol miktarda komplo teorisi bulunuyor” değerlendirmesi yapıldı.

ABD’nin bir numaralı gazetesi WSJ’de yer alan bir haberde Türkiye’nin Kürt isyancılarla giderek artan savaşının, hükümet yetkililerinin, "demokratik değişime karşı çıkanların ülkenin iki ucunda etnik kalkışmaları tetiklediği" suçlamaları yapmasıyla birlikte ülkedeki sert partizan iç politika tartışmaları kestiğini yazdı. Adalet Bakanı Sadullah Ergin’in gizli servislerin olayların arkasındaki "mühendisleri" araştırdığı açıklamasına yer veren WSJ, PKK´nın doğuda dört polisi öldürmesinin olayları tetiklediğini, batıda ise Kürtlerin karıştığı bıçaklama olayından sonraki ayaklanmanın çok sayıda yaralanma ve tutuklanmayla sonuçlandığını hatırlattı.


Sadullah Ergin’in bir grup gazeteciye “Her iki durumda provokasyon olasılığını dikkate almalıyız ve gizli servisler olasılıkları araştırıyor” dediğini kaydeden WSJ, bu satırın ardından “Türkiye İslami yöne dayanan hükümeti ve ülkeyi onyıllarca yönetmiş asker destekli laik kuruluşlar arasında bir güç çatışmasının ortasında. Her iki tarafta da birbirleriyle ilgili kanıtlanması mümkün olmayan bol miktarda komplo teorisi bulunuyor” değerlendirmesini yaptı ve şöyle devam etti: "Bununla birlikte, Türkiye’nin sözde derin devletinin üyeleri PKK’yla çatışmayı, hükümete güvenin altını oymak için ateşliyor suçlaması, şiddetli tartışmalara yolaçan bir konu. Türkiye’nin PKK’yla savaşı, başladığı 1984’ten bu yana 30 bin ila 40 bin arasında yaşama maloldu.

Sayın Ergin Pazartesi günkü olayları kimin provoke ettiği sorusunu geri çeviriyor, fakat Türkiye’de ‘statükodan yana” gruplar bulunduğunu söylüyor. Bu grupların, hükümetin 12 Eylül’de yapılacak anayasa değişikleri üzerine referandumu dahil demokratikleşme gayretlerini engellemeyi denediklerini belirtiyor.

Temel yasalarla ilgili, ülkenin en üst mahkemelerini yeniden yapılandıracak, askerlerin sivil yasalarla yargılanmasını getirecek söz konusu değişiklikler, güç dengesini hükümet lehine önemli ölçüde değiştirecek."

Associated Press
Turkey gears up for referendum
Christopher Torchia

ISTANBUL – Turkey´s justice minister said Tuesday that a September referendum on changes to the military-era constitution would accelerate democratic change in a country struggling with internal challenges even as it asserts itself on the international stage.

The debate over amendments to the 1982 constitution has become a battleground between Turkey´s government, led by a rising class of pious Muslims, and staunchly secular circles that once held the lion´s share of power and suspect the push for a referendum masks a political agenda. Political observers say the Sept. 12 referendum could turn into a vote of confidence on the government ahead of a general election next year.

Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin described the reforms, which would make the military more accountable to civilian courts as well as give parliament a say in appointing judges, as a critical step in Turkey´s bid for membership in the European Union. The military and the courts are traditional guardians of the secular legacy of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who founded the country in 1923 after the Ottoman imperial collapse.

"We are at present undergoing a serious reform and transformation process. Turkey is changing. We are trying to raise the standards of our democracy," Ergin told foreign media representatives at a lunch in Istanbul.

Without providing specifics, he warned that the campaign faced opposition from "forces" fearing a loss of power. "Political circles, from the judiciary, from the administration, from anywhere — all the forces that resist change can fall under this definition," said the minister, a founder of the ruling Justice and Development Party.

In a separate case, a court last week ordered 102 people, including at least three retired military commanders, to be jailed pending trial on charges of conspiring in 2003 to overthrow the government.

Turkey has made international strides in recent years, expanding trade with neighbors and refining a foreign policy that enhances its strategic role as a Western ally while cultivating closer ties with traditional Western foes such as Iran and Syria. For all its regional clout and relative stability, Turkey still has deep social strains, and currently faces an upsurge in violence by Kurdish rebels.

On Monday, gunmen killed four police officers in a town in the southern province of Hatay, and suspicion fell on Kurdish rebels who say they want more rights for their ethnic kin. An angry crowd attacked the local office of a pro-Kurdish political party, and police fired in the air to disperse the mob.

Last week, Turkey´s parliament passed an amendment to soften an anti-terrorism law that had been used to jail Kurdish minors involved in violent protests in support of Kurdish guerrillas. The measure reduces or waives jail terms for youths convicted of throwing stones at police.

Ergin said 200 children had been in jail under the law, and that another 2,000 to 3,000 faced legal proceedings that could have led to jail time.

"We wanted to make sure that nobody took advantage of these children," he said, noting that the plight of the youths was used to criticize the government over the Kurdish issue.

Polls have indicated that voters will approve the constitutional amendments, but the gap appears to be narrowing. Public discontent with the surge in Kurdish violence is viewed as one factor that could hurt the government´s campaign.

The 1982 constitution was ratified in a referendum after a military coup two years earlier.

Anadolu Ajansı
Adalet Bakanı Ergin, Yabancı Basın Temsilcileriyle Bir Araya Geldi.

Adalet Bakanı Sadullah Ergin, Anayasanın geçici 15. maddesiyle ilgili "Biz Anayasamızda böyle bir hükmün varlığının mahcubiyetini taşıyamayız" dedi.

Dolmabahçe´deki Başbakanlık Çalışma Ofisinde yabancı basın temsilcileriyle bir araya gelen Ergin, Anayasa değişikliklerine ilişkin bilgi verdi.

Avrupa Birliği´ne giriş sürecinde Anayasa değişikliğinin önem kazandığını belirten Ergin, hazırlanan paketin, 73 milyonluk Türkiye Cumhuriyeti vatandaşının karşılaştığı sorunları azaltmaya yönelik olduğunu ifade etti.

Bakan Sadullah Ergin, paketin pozitif ayrımcılık bulunduran maddesi olduğunun da altını çizerek, şöyle konuştu: "Bu paket, 73 milyon Türkiye Cumhuriyeti vatandaşının insan hakları ve demokratik haklar alanında karşılaştığı sorunları azaltmaya yönelik adımlar içerir. Bu açıdan, ´Bu paket Kürtlerin sorunlarına cevap vermiyor´ yaklaşımını son derece yanlış buluyorum. Bu paketin birinci maddesi pozitif ayrımcılık yapmayı mümkün kılacak bir maddeyi getiriyor. Kadınlar, çocuklar, engelliler, şehitlerin dul ve yetimleri için pozitif ayrımcılık içeriyor."

Pozitif ayrımcılığın Türkiye´de yaşayan herkesin yararlanabileceği bir hak olduğunu da belirten Ergin, sözlerini şöyle sürdürdü: "Kadınlar için getirilen pozitif ayrımcılık, Kürt, Türk, Arap kadını için, herkes için istifade edilebilir bir haktır. Kişisel verilerin korunmasını isteme hakkı ya da yurt dışına çıkarken idari makamların yurt dışına çıkış yasağı koyamayacağı kuralı... Bu düzenlemelerden Türk, Kürt, Arap herkes istifade edebilir. Burada bizim bakışımız, karşımızda muadil olarak insan var. O insanların sahip olması gereken haklar var. Bu haklara bu ülkede yaşayan bütün insanlar ulaşabilsin diye bu paket hazırlandı. Bu paket, 73 milyon ülke insanının her birinin istifade edeceği bir pakettir."

Bir gazetecinin, Anayasa değişiklikleri konusunda, "12 Eylül darbecileriyle hesaplaşılacağı" yönünde yapılan açıklamalarla ilgili görüşünü sorması üzerine Ergin, "Geçici 15. maddeye göre, 12 Eylül´de görev almış olanların, o süreçte çalışmış olanların haklarında cezai, mali veya hukuki sorumluluk iddiası ileri sürülemez ve bu maksatla herhangi bir yargı mercine başvurulamaz. 15. madde bunu içeriyor" dedi. Ergin, Türkiye´nin Avrupa Birliği´ne tam üyelik müzakerelerinde bulunduğuna da dikkat çekerek, "Bu Anayasa böyle bir maddeyi taşıyamaz duruma gelmiştir. Bunun pratik sonuçları olur ya da olmaz, biz ´yargı mercilerine başvurulamaz´ hükmünü kaldırıyoruz. ´Cezai ve hukuki sorumluluk yüklenemez´ engelini de kaldırıyoruz. Bu utanç vesilesi düzenlemeyi kaldırıyoruz. Bunun pratik sonuçları olup olmayacağını yargı içtihatları belirleyecek" diye konuştu.

Geçici 15. madde ile ilgili "Biz Anayasamızda böyle bir hükmün varlığının mahcubiyetini taşıyamayız" diyen Ergin, 12 Eylül´de "30 yıllık (zaman aşımı süresi) doldu" şeklinde gelen eleştiriler için, "12 Eylül günü darbe oldu ve bitti" düşüncesinin yanlış olduğunu söyledi.

Adalet Bakanı Sadullah Ergin, "Balyoz planı" davası ile ilgili yöneltilen soru üzerine de "Soruşturma ve yargılama sürecinin işleyişine ilişkin Adalet Bakanı olarak benim bir değerlendirme yapmam, devam eden süreçte yargı organlarını etkilemem tehlikesi taşımaktadır. Bu açıdan soruşturma ya da kovuşturmalar sürerken prensip olarak bunlara ilişkin değerlendirme yapmıyorum" dedi.

Ergin, toplantının ardından yabancı basın temsilcileriyle birlikte fotoğraf çektirdi.

Hürriyet Daily News

Constitutional reform package ’timid,’ Turkish justice minister says 

Changes to the country’s highest judicial bodies proposed by the constitutional-reform package are “timid” compared to what has been done in European countries, Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin said Tuesday.

Meeting with representatives of the foreign press in Turkey, Ergin responded to criticisms of the proposed reforms, which opponents say aim to politicize the judiciary by changing the composition of the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Board of Public Prosecutors and Judges, or HSYK.

“Our proposals regarding the structure of the Constitutional Court and the HSYK are pretty timid in comparison to developed democracies,” Ergin said, citing examples from France, Spain, Italy, Hungary, Portugal and Russia, among others.

In these countries, Ergin said, the government and the parliament have the authority to appoint the members of high judicial bodies.
If approved by a popular vote scheduled for Sept. 12, the new Constitution would enable the Turkish Parliament to appoint the members of the Constitutional Court and the HSYK. Under the conditions of the current Constitution, implemented after the 1980 military coup, only the country’s president has the authority to appoint such members.

The new Constitution would also pave the way for deeper judicial reforms, in accordance with the government’s judicial-reform strategy, Ergin added, noting that this strategy was described in the European Union’s 2009 Progress Report on Turkey as a positive one.

“There is an activist judiciary in Turkey,” Ergin said, adding that the judiciary sometimes intervenes in the executive administration of the state, exceeding the limits of its authority. According to the minister, the proposed changes to the Constitution would and move the structures of the top bodies in the direction of judicial models in developed democracies.

Opponents have also criticized the fact that people will not be able to vote on each of the articles separately in the referendum, a type of vote Ergin said there was not much experience with in Turkey.

“It is possible theoretically, but think about 49 million voters, voting 29 times for each article. Consider the classification of the vote. As there has been limited experience in this respect, we could not be sure [of the validity of the vote],” he said, explaining the government’s reasoning behind presenting the reforms as a single package at the referendum.

Safeguards for coup leaders would be removed

Responding to a question on how the new Constitution would settle accounts with the leaders of the Sept. 12, 1980, military coup, Ergin reiterated that, should it be adopted, the new Constitution would no longer safeguard coup leaders from punishment as temporary Article 15 would be removed.

“Regardless of the practical consequences [of removing the article], this regulation, which is a cause for shame, will be removed,” he said, adding that a country negotiating EU membership in the 21st century should not stand for having such a regulation in its Constitution.